Air Canada Sends Heavy Maintenance to Chinese Company

“It’s a head scratcher, for sure.” Global News reported the comment by former CSIS senior analyst Phil Gurski upon hearing about a five-year contract Air Canada signed last September with aircraft maintenance company HAECO Hong Kong. According to HAECO’s press release published on Feb. 28, the company “…will become Air Canada’s exclusive base maintenance provider for their Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 fleet, comprising eight Boeing 787-8 aircraft, 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft…and 18 Airbus A330 aircraft. The comprehensive scope of the contract includes C checks for both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 fleets.”

The contract was previously held by ST Aerospace at their Texas facility.

“I have serious concerns about sending business away from our closest allies to a country that has treated Canada in the last six years with malign intent and has, as its first priority, Chinese interests,” said Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, who is a board member at the China Strategic Risks Institute, an international think-tank that analyzes strategic risks presented by China’s authoritarianism. “Giving complete access to each of our planes does not strike me as a secure tactic.”

Reported by Global News, Gurski, now president of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting, added, “Given what China has done here in terms of interference in our elections, and running secret police stations, the prudent approach would be, for the time being, less China, not more China. I’d be hitting the pause button pretty damn quickly.”

In a written response to Global News, Air Canada spokesman said, “We selected HAECO, which is fully certified by Transport Canada (TC), EASA and FAA regulatory authorities, because of their well-established track record for safety and reliability, and they are a supplier to major global airlines around the world.”

McCuaig-Johnston, who is also a senior fellow with the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy, pointed out that companies operating in China are required by law to follow directives from Chinese intelligence services and must keep any spying operations secret.