01/19/2012 05:44 EST | Updated 03/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Air Canada Toronto Relocation: Montreal Urges Company Not To Transfer 140 Operation Centre Jobs

MONTREAL - Montreal's mayor and opposition leader are urging Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) to reverse a decision to relocate 140 jobs to Toronto from the carrier's base in Montreal.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay has written to Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu, saying it's vital for the city to keep as many jobs as possible in the current fragile economic climate.

He also said in the letter made public Thursday that the erosion of the airline's head office in Montreal jeopardizes not only employment but the city's competitive thrust.

"Montreal occupies an enviable place in the world in the aerospace sector, which is a key factor for its economic development," Tremblay wrote.

"The transfer of strategic functions from Air Canada's head office to other Canadian cities can only be detrimental to the positioning of Montreal and its competitiveness."

The jobs involve scheduling pilots and flight attendants.

The airline has said moving the functions to its new operational control centre in Toronto during the next two years will improve customer service because it will be easier and more efficient to have the people in one place.

There are now about 250 people at the facility in Toronto, where Air Canada has its main national and international hub.

Louise Harel, opposition leader at Montreal city hall, said she will present a motion at Monday's council meeting to demand the airline reverse its decision.

Harel says she is worried the Air Canada headquarters in Montreal will turn into an empty shell.

She also invited the federal MPs for the Montreal region to exert pressure on Air Canada.

Eve Peclet, a Quebec NDP MP, urged the federal government in November to keep the jobs in Montreal, saying moving them to Ontario could make it difficult for French-speaking Air Canada employees.

The Canadian Auto Workers union called on the airline last October to give up its plans, arguing it didn't give any reasonable reason for moving the jobs.