Month: June 2018

Delta and Bombardier execute purchase agreement for 20 CRJ900 replacement

Delta has entered into an agreement with Bombardier to purchase 20 CRJ900 aircraft that will replace older regional jet aircraft flown by Delta Connection operators.

screen-shot-2018-06-20-at-7-35-21-amThe operationally efficient jets are to be delivered beginning in late 2018 with the last delivery to occur in 2020. They will feature Bombardier’s new Atmosphère Cabin, including increased carry-on bag capacity, a larger lavatory and improved aesthetic detail throughout the cabin.

These aircraft will be configured with 70 total seats including 12 in First Class, 20 in Delta Comfort+ and 38 in the main cabin. They will fly on small market routes to and from Delta’s domestic hubs.

Air Canada takes on the low cost carriers

Air_Canada_LogoAir Canada’s move to launch its own loyalty programme in 2020 will help to attract more foreign investors who will bolster its stock price, CEO Calin Rovinescu said this week. Air Canada said it is negotiating with potential credit card partners and expects to announce a decision by year-end. The airline served notice last year that it does not plan to renew its 30-plus year partnership with Aimia Inc.-operated Aeroplan when the current contract ends in 2020.

Rovinescu said the industry as a whole isn’t fully rewarded because past airline bankruptcies on both sides of border made such investments risky.

But he said its decision not to renew its Aeroplan partnership will deliver up to about $2.5 billion of value for investors.

“That can actually go a long way to eliminating that multiple differential that exists with the US carriers,” he said.

Chief financial officer Michael Rousseau added that the share price should also be helped as it attracts more investors from the US, Europe and Asia. Currently, 42 percent of its shareholders are from outside of Canada.

Air Canada said it is preparing to deploy its Rouge low-cost airplanes on routes to Western Canada to compete with ultra-low-cost rivals.

The first routes will be between Montreal and Victoria, along with Toronto to Nanaimo and Kamloops, B.C., starting in June.

Three more planes will be added to the Rouge fleet, bringing it to 53 aircraft. One of the planes will be used to replace a regional aircraft.

The larger Rouge plane will reduce costs by decreasing the number of daily flights on that route.

WestJet Airlines is launching its Swoop ultra-low-cost airline in June to compete with Flair Airlines and other carriers preparing to start service.

Air Canada reported a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter as its revenue grew compared with a year ago, boosted by increased capacity and passenger traffic.

The Montreal-based airline said it lost $170 million or 62 cents per diluted share for the quarter compared with a loss of $13 million or five cents per share in the same quarter last year.

Operating revenue for the quarter totalled a record $4.07 billion, up from $3.64 billion as it experienced a strong performance in most areas and particularly in the business cabin.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu told analysts that the strong results were achieved despite higher costs resulting from winter service disruptions.

“Despite these challenges, our first quarter performance demonstrates our ability to perform against headwinds and our progress towards consistent earnings and long-term sustained profitability,” he said.

The most recent quarter included losses on foreign exchange of $112 million compared with gains on foreign exchange of $70 million in the first quarter of 2017.

On an adjusted basis, Air Canada said it lost $52 million or 19 cents per diluted share compared with an adjusted loss of $63 million or 23 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted loss of 44 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.

WestJet Link takes flight

WestJet_logo_rgbCALGARY, June 20, 2018 /CNW/ – Today WestJet inaugurated its new regional airline service, WestJet Link, from Cranbrook and Prince George to Calgary. Service starts from Lethbridge and Lloydminster to Calgary on June 21 and Medicine Hat to Calgary on June 22. Overall, WestJet Link connects five new cities to WestJet’s growing hub at the YYC Calgary International Airport.

“This is a great day for the communities who now benefit from WestJet’s non-stop service and convenient connectivity to the WestJet network,” said Tim Croyle, WestJet Interim Executive Vice-President, Commercial. “WestJet continues to offer Canadians more travel options and WestJet Link brings more choice, lower fares and WestJet’s renowned guest service to these five communities.”

These new routes add to WestJet’s existing leadership position in Calgary, offering more flights and seats to more destinations than any other airline with an average of 147 daily departures to 49 destinations.

“We’d like to congratulate our partner on their addition of WestJet Link, which will increase connectivity opportunities for their guests out of YYC Calgary International Airport,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority. “These additional routes throughout Western Canada, will provide greater air access to those in our smaller regional communities through WestJet’s largest hub.”

All WestJet Link flights are operated by Pacific Coastal using its fleet of 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft. Each aircraft includes six seats available in WestJet Plus, offering guests advanced boarding, no-charge for two checked bags and seating at the front of the aircraft.

“Pacific Coastal Airlines is proud to become part of the WestJet family through the launch of WestJet Link,” said Quentin Smith, President, Pacific Coastal Airlines. “This is a great partnership between two Western Canadian airlines that share similar corporate values and a customer-focused approach to doing business. Together, we will work to provide better connectivity and offer more transportation options for the people and the communities we serve.”

WestJet Link routes and launch dates:

Route Frequency Effective
Calgary-Cranbrook Three times daily
Two times daily Saturday
June 20, 2018
Calgary-Prince George Once daily June 20, 2018
Calgary-Lethbridge Three times daily
Two times daily Saturday
June 21, 2018
Calgary-Lloydminster Six times weekly (no Saturday service) June 21, 2018
Calgary-Medicine Hat Three times daily
Two times daily Saturday
June 22, 2018

 

Flair Airlines Claims a New Hometown

Flair AirlinesFlair, Canada’s low-fare airline, today announced that after extensive analysis, it will build on the success of Edmonton International Airport as its Main Transfer Hub and officially establish itself as Edmonton’s Hometown Airline. Flair will continue to expand its network to/from Edmonton by growing its frequency and network – both domestic and trans-border; announcing new low-fare routes in the coming weeks. Flair will also progressively relocate its operations and executive base in Edmonton.

Flair’s Executive Chairman, David Tait, commented, “Just last week Flair doubled its frequency out of Edmonton and, as one of the fastest growing cities in the country, the community and the airport are uniquely positioned to support our ongoing growth: Already, of Flair’s almost 200 flights per week, 65% of them fly to/from Edmonton. We are also looking forward to tapping into Edmonton’s professional talent pool, as we progressively establish our headquarters here over the coming months.”

“We congratulate Flair Airlines on its success,” said Tom Ruth, President and CEO of Edmonton International Airport. “Over the past year of operation, not only has Flair introduced new destinations and increased route frequencies, it has successfully expanded Edmonton into its main transfer hub for Canada. This reflects Flair’s strong confidence in the Edmonton Metro Region, and has proven this market’s support for Flair’s growing list of non-stops and ULCC value.”

Cities from which Flair operates benefit with dramatically lower airfares as a direct consequence of the carrier’s market presence. Airports also report an increase in first-time travellers.

Competition heating up for price-sensitive passengers as Swoop set to launch

by Ross Marowits, Canadian Press

SwoopMONTREAL – Competition is heating up for Canada’s most price-sensitive travellers as WestJet Airlines gears up to launch the country’s second ultra-low cost airline Wednesday.

Swoop, an offshoot of WestJet Airlines, will make its maiden flight on its pink and white aircraft before the sun rises in Hamilton, Ont. on a trip to Abbotsford, B.C.

“From my perspective coming into this fresh — I’ve been in Canada four months now — I personally believe there’s a huge opportunity in Canada,” said Swoop president Steven Greenway.

Greenway is an Australian native who has worked in executive positions at airlines including Japanese low-cost carrier Peach, Virgin Blue, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas.

Swoop marks his sixth airline startup.

By discounting travel, Swoop, Flair Airlines and others are trying to repatriate the more than five million Canadians who cross the border to catch flights from airports in Buffalo and Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Birmingham, Wash.

“From our perspective there’s the opportunity to fill a gap, there’s an opportunity to stimulate demand, there’s an opportunity to welcome Canadians back from crossing the border. We believe there’s a significant enough market to be able to thrive,” Greenway said in an interview.

He expects competition will increase significantly over the next 12 months as Canada Jetlines gears up to join Swoop and Flair in offering deeply discounted fares along with charges for everything from a onboard drink to carry-on and checked baggage.

Flair welcomed the extra competition.

“We think that having more people in the space helps promote the fact the space exists and will work to each other’s advantage,” executive chairman David Tait said in an interview.

“I don’t think Canada’s big enough for half a dozen players in this space, but there’s certainly plenty of room for two and maybe three.”

Meanwhile, Tait said Flair plans to move its headquarters to Edmonton from Kelowna, B.C., over the coming months to help promote its growth.

“Kelowna was a fine base for a charter operator but it didn’t really give us the scope, the potential we need as we’re growing.”

Swoop is entering an area of the airline business that doesn’t have a stellar history of success in Canada: Jetsgo, Air Canada’s Tango, Canada 3000 and Roots Air have all floundered in the past.

Canada is the only G7 country without a true ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) and the model has been successful in Europe, Australia and the United States, said transportation analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a true ULCC model in the Canadian marketplace before so I think we’re in somewhat uncharted territory,” he said.

“I think there’s also frankly some opportunities if they do it well to be successful with it.”

Murray estimates the Canadian ultra low-cost market can handle 10 million passengers per year, enough to support up to 50 aircraft. The service is particularly suited to leisure flights to Las Vegas, Arizona and Florida, he added.

Swoop says fares should be 30 to 40 per cent lower than a national carrier.

The key will be to keep costs down from lower labour costs, cramming 189 seats into Boeing 737-800s, and stimulating demand from people who don’t normally fly because of the high cost.

The carrier, however, has already had something of a bumpy takeoff.

WestJet’s launch of Swoop had been a source of labour strife between the company and pilots, who were on the brink of a strike last month before reaching an 11th-hour deal.

Earlier this year, the union won a Canada Industrial Relations Board challenge to the company’s proposed policy to offer pilots a two-year leave of absence if they go to fly for Swoop.

A federal arbitrator recently ruled that WestJet’s unionized pilots will also fly Swoop, which means the airline can no longer outsource Swoop flying, a major disagreement in recent negotiations.

Swoop will recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for all Swoop pilots, who will be on the airline’s one seniority list and fly aircraft at Swoop terms and conditions.

Initial one-way flights start at $49 tax included from Abbotsford to Winnipeg, $129 between Hamilton and Abbotsford and $99 between Hamilton and Halifax.

The fares don’t include a range of fees, including carry-on luggage and checked bags starting at $26.25, seat selection start at $5, and $15 to contact the call centre if the service can be carried out on the website.

No pets aside from guide dogs are allowed on board and any credits are only valid for 90 days. No loyalty points will be awarded.

Swoop is starting with two planes, with plans to roll out six by year-end and 10 in 2019.

Instead of flying from Toronto Pearson International, flights will fly out of Hamilton’s lower-cost airport. Other initial cities are Winnipeg, Edmonton, Halifax and Abbotsford.

Additional destinations will be added, including international flights likely by the end of 2018, said Greenway. Flair plans to fly to Orlando and Palm Springs, Calif., next winter.

While there is a real concern that passengers could feel being “nickled and dimed” by a series of ancillary fees, experience in Europe over the past 20 years suggests passengers ultimately focus on the fares, said Greenway.

“It is an education process and I think people will adapt over time.”

YYC to get major upgrades as part of new strategic direction

The Calgary Airport Authority unveiled its new strategic direction and guiding vision statement, aptly referred to as the North Star. The Authority’s new direction will focus on elevating guest experiences with the goal of driving economic growth and prosperity for Calgary and Alberta. To embody this new direction, a refreshed visual identity for YYC Calgary International Airport was also unveiled.

North Star vision statement: We create effortless and memorable airport experiences that reflect Calgary’s legendary hospitality and our region’s natural beauty.

“We are thrilled about the promise of our North Star and the positive impact this will have on our guests for many years to come,” said Bob Sartor, President and CEO of The Calgary Airport Authority. “By placing our guests at the heart of everything we do, creating an experience that is reflective of the city and region we serve, and by providing the best value to our airline partners, we will be a key economic engine well into the future.”

Inspired by the things that make Calgary and southern Alberta unique, The Calgary Airport Authority is creating a plan for the airport that truly reflects the city and region, and encouraging visitors to return. A new approach to retail and service offerings at YYC; improvements to processes within the airport; enhancements to the domestic terminal; and leveraging the entire campus development plan with the appropriate mix of businesses will all be factored into fueling Calgary’s economic prosperity.

With an increased focus on enhancing the experience, The Calgary Airport Authority’s new Vice-President of Marketing and Guest Experience, Michael Hayward added, “We’re focusing on authentic western hospitality as we improve the experience for YYC guests; at the same time our upcoming domestic terminal improvements and enhanced visual identity will reflect the beauty of the city and province.”

Improvements in the domestic terminal have already begun, and the new identity system is on display in the domestic check-in areas, soon to expand to the improvements underway in domestic arrivals.

WestJet return to YYC due to fire in cargo hold

The Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to Calgary International Airport after a WestJet passenger plane was forced to return after taking off. The board says there was a fire in the cargo compartment of the Boeing 737.

WestJet says in a statement that shortly after takeoff today the crew on Flight 113 from Calgary to Vancouver was alerted by a fire indication light.

The statement says all passengers and crew are safe and were unloaded after landing.

WestJet is apologizing for the delay and inconvenience, but says safety is its first priority.

The plane has been removed from service for further inspection.

Additional Information from another source…

“C-GWJT, a Boeing 737-700 aircraft operated by WestJet, was conducting flight WJA113 from Calgary Intl, AB (CYYC) to Vancouver Intl, BC (CYVR) with 56 passengers and 5 crew members on board. During the initial climb through 10 000 feet after the departure from CYYC, the flight crew received an aft cargo fire warning. The QRH was executed, an emergency was declared and a return to CYYC was requested. After the landing, ARFF inspected the aft cargo hold and found evidence of fire in a passenger baggage. The TSB Edmonton office has deployed two investigators to CYYC.”

 

Flair Airlines Expands Network

Flair Airlines will increase its flights per week from 90 to 188 beginning today – effectively increasing its direct, one stop and connectivity throughout its entire network. 

Flair Airlines Ltd--Flair Airlines Announces Expansion
Flair Airlines (CNW Group/Flair Airlines Ltd.)

Flair Airlines: Flair, Canada’s only operating low-fare airline, today launches service from Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Calgary International Airport and Victoria International Airport. This marks Flair’s commitment to expanding its route network as was announced earlier this year. With today’s addition of Halifax, Calgary and Victoria – coupled with increased frequency on its existing routes – Flair has effectively doubled its flights and now has services stretching coast to coast.

Cities in which Flair flies to and from benefit significantly with lower airfares as a direct consequence of Flair’s market presence: Since Flair launched service from Edmonton and Winnipeg (as an example) both communities have already reported 30-40% reductions in ticket prices (source: Kayak.com).

Echoing this, Flair’s Executive Chairman, David Tait, commented, “In barely a year, Flair has had a tremendous impact in lowering the price of air travel in Canada and we are confident these new locations will be no different. We offer Canadians the opportunity to travel more often, to explore the country and, for small business owners, maybe visit out-of-province customers more often. We are delighted to bring spread our Flair throughout the country.”

Air Transat prepping for A321LRs by rapidly expanding in Europe

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Air Transat executives are describing the company’s rapid European summer expansion as part of a long-term strategy to remain competitive in transatlantic markets.

The airline will dump 15% more seats into Europe this summer – and do so with widebody aircraft that executives concede are not ideal for the job.

But starting next year, Transat will begin defending newly-acquired turf with an expanding fleet of efficient Airbus A321LRs.

“Our first goal [is] to increase frequencies so that we are able to protect our market share,” Annick Guerard, chief operating officer of Air Transat parent Transat AT, says on 14 June. “We need to take our place in those markets that we see are highly profitable.”

The 15% capacity gains will be carried on existing routes by A330s and A310s.

“Do we have the exact right aircraft to operate these routes? The answer is no,” Guerard says during the company’s fiscal second quarter earnings call. “We preferred to have smaller models like the A321 long-range, which is coming up in our fleet.”

The first of those aircraft – Transat has orders for 10 – will arrive in spring 2019. Transat will use A321LRs to replace A310s on transatlantic routes, it has said.

Guerard says Air Transat seeks to gain more share on routes to Portugal, French destinations besides Paris, as well as the UK.

“It needs to be done this year, as we see competition growing,” Guerard says. “If we don’t do it, others will.”

She does not name competitors, but next year WestJet will start acquiring the first of ten Boeing 787-9s, an aircraft that the airline has said it will likely deploy to Europe.

Transat’s European growth reflects broader industry expansion.

Continue reading “Air Transat prepping for A321LRs by rapidly expanding in Europe”

Vancouver Airport YVR announces $9.1 billion expansion – Updated

YVR investing $9.1 billion into the airport under its 20-year blueprint

Today, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) broke ground on a number of capital construction projects to enhance the airport experience and improve YVR’s competitive position as a world-class connecting hub. The projects are part of YVR’s multi-year expansion plans that will see the airport complete 75 major projects, totaling $9.1 billion over the next 20 years.

Vancouver Airport Authority President and CEO Craig Richmond was joined by British Columbia Premier John Horgan; Ken Hardie, Member of Parliament for Fleetwood-Port Kells; and Fiona Famulak, President of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association to celebrate the groundbreaking of YVR’s construction projects. They include building one of the largest GeoExchange systems in Canada, significant terminal expansions, new parking options and improved vehicle rental facilities.

YVR is one of the fastest-growing airports in North America. It welcomed a record 24.2 million passengers in 2017 and is forecasting 32 million passengers by 2022. About 327,000 tonnes of cargo are expected to move through the airport by 2020. These newest construction projects will improve the speed with which people and goods move through YVR, and provide passengers with a wide range of compelling offerings and amenities.

YVR plays a significant role in the local, provincial and national economy—creating jobs and driving business activity. The airport supports 24,000 jobs on Sea Island and more than 100,000 jobs across British Columbia. YVR’s operations—together with tourism and cargo—contribute more than $16 billion in total economic output, $8.4 billion in GDP and $1.4 billion in government revenue across British Columbia. Each new flight through YVR creates hundreds of jobs and contributes millions of dollars in economic benefit to the province.

The expansion projects will have significant economic and employment benefits in the region. By the end of 2018, construction activities at YVR will create nearly 2,500 full-time construction jobs on Sea Island and hundreds more off-site. Much of the work will be done in the province, offering a significant number of jobs for British Columbians.

YVR’s multi-year expansion plans are made possible by YVR’s unique, not-for-profit operating model. YVR receives no government funding and all profits generated at YVR are reinvested back into the airport for the benefit of its customers, partners and communities.

To learn more about YVR’s key projects that will enhance the airport experience, please visit yvr.ca/construction.

Continue reading “Vancouver Airport YVR announces $9.1 billion expansion – Updated”