Month: December 2019

Swissport Reaction to CIRB ruling and update on airport activities

Provided by Swissport Canada Inc./CNW

MONTREAL, Dec. 31, 2019 /CNW/ – Swissport is acknowledging the Canada Industrial Relations Board ruling and welcomes the conclusion of Vice-President Louise Fecteau that the union did not meet its obligation to bargain in good faith. In its ruling the Board ordered the union to withdraw its December 29th last proposal and to return to negotiations immediately based on the December 21th agreement in principle duly signed and recommended by the union. Therefore, Swissport invites the union to respect the ruling and to propose a meeting as soon as possible.

Our team has taken over the fueling activities since 11 a.m. today without any delay or incident.

SOURCE Swissport Canada Inc.

Employees at airline fuel supplier for Trudeau Airport walk off the job

News provided by CTV News – link to full story and updates

Rachel Lau Digital reporter, CTV News Montreal, December 31, 2019

Watch: Link to video

MONTREAL — Workers in charge of refuelling planes at both Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Mirabel Airport walked off the job at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

This comes after they rejected a deal presented by their union last week, with a vote of 90 per cent.

The move presents the possibility of a strike – with 99 per cent of members voting in favour of action – that could ground planes and stall air travel in Montreal for New Year’s.

“What we want is an employment contract that respects the workers. It’s disappointing to have to go on strike to make the employer understand that,” said union executive Peter Tsoukalas. “Our attitude has not change. Our intention is to reach a win-win agreement… We were disappointed to see the employer mobilize its resources to try to invalidate our right to strike.”

Last Friday, the company said it was “surprised and disappointed with the outcome of today’s vote since we have answered the great majority of the union demands.”

Swissport Canada Inc. officials insist the “proposal was fair and included significant improvements in total compensation and work conditions.”

It adds that it will work to make sure planes remain fuelled during the busy holiday season “as we go back to the negotiation table.”

Trudeau airport officials say they are working with Swissport “to rapidly deploy its contingency plan, including providing managers with access to restricted zones so that they can ensure the continuation of aircraft refuelling activities.”

Officials note they are monitoring the situation, but the dispute could result in flight delays.

The contract for unionized workers, including aircraft refuellers, mechanics, dispatchers and maintenance employees, ended last August.

They say their main concerns are wages and work-life balance.

Workers in charge of refuelling planes at both Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Mirabel Airport walked off the job. (Elizabeth Zogalis/CJAD)

Air Canada refuses to reimburse musician after guitar damaged during flight

News provided by CTV News – link to full story and updates

Miriam Katawazi CTV News Toronto Tuesday, December 31, 2019

chad
Toronto resident Chad Walsh says his guitar was damaged on an Air Canada flight to Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 2019.

TORONTO — A musician says he feels helpless after Air Canada refused to offer a reimbursement for his guitar that was damaged on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.

Toronto resident Chad Walsh said he was travelling to Los Angeles on Dec. 8 to perform at a concert the next day. He said he personally brought his guitar to the gate of the flight to ensure that it was kept safe.

He said the guitar was damaged after he gave it to the flight agent who placed it in the underbelly of the plane. Walsh said he only found out when he unzipped his guitar just hours before the concert.

The headstock of the guitar was broken toward the bottom where it meets the neck, he said, and it also had a chip at the top left corner of the headstock. The damages made the guitar unusable, and he had to rent another one. 

“We didn’t check it at the airport because it wasn’t part of our routine, we’ve travelled so much with all our gear but this never happened before,” Walsh told CTV News Toronto Saturday.

“It’s just frustrating because our livelihoods are in the hands of the airline … it’s a helpless feeling.”

guitar broken aircanada

He said he tweeted about the damage, and the airline sent him a direct message asking him to return to the airport in Los Angeles to report the damage.

Walsh said he waited until his return flight the next day and brought the guitar to the damaged baggage department, where he was told he needed to report it in Canada.

Once in Canada, Walsh said he brought the guitar to the baggage help desk and told them what happened.

“The employee told me that because we waited so long [before reporting the damage], he couldn’t help us,” Walsh said.

“He then gave me a number to call about the damage, but it was a number that took me to a generalized line for lost baggage.”

The Man Who@TheManWhoBand Thanks Nick, happy we DMed to be told to report it to your baggage damaged department which “recommends you report the damage before leaving the airport.” Super helpful. Can I play the damage report instead of my guitar in LA in front of our label @virginrecords ?? #mybad

Air Canada✔@AirCanadaReplying to @TheManWhoBandHello, we are sincerely sorry to hear your guitar was in damaged condition after your recent travel. Despite our staff’s best efforts and intentions, checked baggage sustains damage during transport. Can you please DM us for further assistance? Sincerely /Nick 12:32 AM – Dec 10, 2019

After another set of tweets expressing his frustration, Walsh said the airline responded once again, asking him to fill out and submit a damage claim and photos.

He said the claim came back saying the guitar was damaged because the strings were not loosened and the air pressure on the flight resulted in the damage. 

“Based on the pictures submitted, the strings on your guitar were not loosened that what caused the neck to snap,” the airline said in an email to Walsh. “We can see on the travel case picture, that your case wasn’t damage.”

Walsh said he showed his guitar to a musician tech, who said that it’s not possible for air pressure to cause the damage just because the strings were not loosened. 

He said despite his frustration with the airline, he feels worried because he doesn’t have many options to fly with others. 

guitar

“This whole situation has made us feel pretty helpless, knowing for our line of work we have to fly with our gear. Air Canada pretty much has a monopoly on the airline industry in Canada so we don’t have much choice but to use them,” he said.

“I just want Air Canada do what’s right here. We need our equipment to make a living and also need to use their services which puts us in a tough situation if there’s no accountability.”

In an email to CTV News Toronto a spokesperson for Air Canada said it deals directly with customers about such issues, and cannot share additional information on the matter. 

Walsh said he now wishes he opened the case at the airport in Los Angeles to have shown the damage in person right away.

“It’s more difficult for a person to hold the guitar, look you in the eyes, and say they can’t help you,” he said. “Right now, there’s no accountability.”

Despite flying with more than $12,000 worth of equipment, Walsh said he plans to always check his gear right after a flight from now.

He said he also plans on using a hard case rather than his soft one from now on, and will continue bringing the guitars directly to the gate.

The Man Who@TheManWhoBand Hey @AirCanada just got to our gig @Bardot_Hllywd to find how you handled our guitar! Thanks! #doorchecked #smashed #brokenguitar

View image on Twitter

Swissport responds to employee strike at YUL and YMX and reassures travellers

Provided by Swissport Canada Inc./CNW

MONTREAL, Dec. 31, 2019 /CNW/ – Today at 11 a.m., the union representing Swissport Fuel employees (IAM Lodge 140) at YUL (Montreal) & YMX (Mirabel) Airports launched a strike. Despite our efforts we were unable to reach an agreement.

Following the rejection of the agreement in principle on Friday, Swissport Canada has filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) alleging that the union did not bargain in good faith. The employer and union leadership came to an agreement in principle Saturday December 21st, 2019 that met almost every demand presented by the union and the agreement was signed by the union who committed to unanimously recommend it to its members. The complaint was heard on Monday Dec. 30 and both parties are still waiting for a decision.

We want to reassure the travelling public and our customers that we have the properly trained resources in place to continue refueling activities. We are working with airport authorities to minimize any disruptions to travellers. So far, it is business as usual and we will be keeping a close watch to ensure that it remains this way.

Anyone working for or on behalf of Swissport Canada has received thorough safety and job-specific training appropriate to their role. Our management team is actively engaged in the onboarding process because we have an obligation to our workforce and our partners to maintain a safe environment at both YUL and YMX.

Whether long-tenured employees or new hires, we believe in treating all employees fairly and with respect. Our proposal included compensation increases for all employees that met the majority of the union’s demands.

SOURCE Swissport Canada Inc.

Parked Plane Spins around when other Aircraft Clips its Tail in Toronto

News provided by the Independent – link to full story

An Air Canada plane approaches Toronto Pearson Airport (file photo)
An Air Canada plane approaches Toronto Pearson Airport (file photo)( Getty )

Both aircraft were unoccupied at the time

The Indepedent Travel Desk, December 31, 2019

A Boeing 777 has clipped the tail of another plane at Toronto airport.

The Air Canada jet, which was being towed at the time, banged the tail of the Airbus A321 aircraft belonging to the same carrier.

Video footage shows the 777’s left-hand wing hitting the parked narrow-body jet with enough force to spin the Airbus aircraft around.

It’s understood that both aircraft were unoccupied at the time of the incident.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the Canadian flag carrier’s largest hub. It handles around 50 million passengers a year and is the second-busiest airport in North America after New York JFK.

Both aircraft were damaged due to the contact.

The decade's top TSX stock returned more than 4,000% — and it wasn’t the only one

News provided by Financial Post – link to full story and updates

List includes tech companies, an airline giant, dollar stores and a label maker

Dollarama Inc., Air Canada and Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. are among the top 10 Canadian stocks over the past decade.Postmedia/National Post

Victor Ferreira December 31, 2019

The last decade produced the longest-running bull market in history, but the fruits were not shared evenly. While U.S. markets soared, the S&P/TSX Composite Index underperformed, weighed down by the poor showings from energy and materials stocks. Nevertheless, there were a handful of companies here at home that rewarded investors handsomely — if they were savvy enough to hold them for the full 10 years. Now that the decade has come to a close, here’s a look back at the 10 S&P/TSX Composite Index stocks that netted investors the highest returns, including dividends.

Boyd Group Income Fund: 4,247 per cent

Investors likely wouldn’t expect this level of return from an autobody-shop conglomerate based in Winnipeg, but the Boyd Group has stealthily become one of the TSX’s best growth stocks. As the decade began, the company was riddled in debt and trading just above $5. When Brock Bulbuck took over as chief executive in 2010, the company pivoted to a consolidation strategy and its stock — now trading above $200 — hasn’t looked back.

Constellation Software Inc: 4,064 per cent

Like Boyd, Constellation is a consolidator with an aggressive growth-by-acquisition strategy that sees it gobble up small tech startups in niche markets. The stock has risen steadily since 2010 — so steadily, in fact, that it has suffered through only one 20 per cent decline during the entire 10 years.

Air Canada: 3,663 per cent

In 2012, Air Canada was trading at a little more than a dollar and, weighed down by a toxic balance sheet, appeared to be heading for a second bankruptcy. But since then chief executive Calin Rovinescu has overseen a remarkable turnaround, eliminating a multi-billion dollar pension deficit, transforming the airline into an international carrier and bringing the company’s books back into the black. The stock has taken flight, too, touching the $50 mark in November.

Cargojet Inc.: 1,555 per cent

The overnight cargo airline has been one of the runaway success stories of the past decade. Once an income fund that traded below $10, it has ridden the rise of e-commerce to new heights, signing a billion-dollar deal with Canada Post and most recently, entering into a partnership with Amazon.com Inc. It ends the decade on a high note, trading above $100.

InterRent Real Estate Invest Trust: 1,442 per cent

InterRent’s formula is a simple one. The apartment REIT buys older and mismanaged units on the cheap in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and completely renovates them, allowing it to charge much more in rent than the buildings’ previous owners. Although REITs are typically conservative investments, the upward trajectory of InterRent’s stock mirrors the growth the company has made in the past decade, more than doubling the number of units it owns and operates.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. Class B: 1,186 per cent

Couche-Tard has become the second-largest convenience store operator in the world in the last decade and has done so mostly through consolidation. Its largest deal in the M&A market was sealed in 2017, when it acquired CST Brands Inc. for US$4.4 billion and added another 2,000 stores across the U.S. and Eastern Canada to its books. And chief executive Brian Hannasch isn’t done there. Though a recent US$7.7 billion offer for Australia-based Caltex Australia Ltd. was rejected, there are sure to be more on the way.

Enghouse Systems Ltd.: 1,167 per cent

If you haven’t heard of Enghouse Systems, you aren’t alone. With a focus on enterprise communications software they aren’t in the public eye, but that is of little concern to investors who have reaped a tidy four-digit return over the past decade. The $2.6-billion software company operates like Constellation Software though on a smaller scale, making multiple acquisitions per year to fuel its incredible growth story.

Dollarama Inc.: 1,096 per cent

Dollarama IPO’d in the wake of the financial crisis and has thrived due to a significant portion of its customer base now being made up of middle-class consumers. In 2014, the stock gained close to 60 per cent on the back of the news that the discount chain would be pursuing an expansion strategy that would see its store count boosted by 50 per cent. Dollarama had 800 stores then and now operates over 1,200.

CCL Industries Inc. Class B: 1,036 per cent

Investing thousands of dollars in a label-maker doesn’t sound too exciting for an investor with their eyes on the latest cutting-edge tech companies — that is, until they see that that label maker has returned more than 1,000 per cent in the past decade. CCL calls itself the world’s largest label maker and has been able to accomplish that feat through acquisitions that have seen it more than double its revenues since 2014. The company also pays out a quarterly dividend, which now stands at 17 cents per common share.

Premium Brands Holdings Corp.: 970 per cent

In little more than three years between 2015 and 2018, Premium Brands netted investors close to 400 per cent in returns. Like many of the top performers on this list, the food manufacturer actively pursued acquisitions while also offering investors a quarterly dividend of 52 cents per common share as of the end of September 2019. After reaching its all-time high of just over $120 in April 2018, the stock declined by more than 40 per cent in the next eight months and has yet to retest its prior levels more than a year later.

From the first headlines to done deal: WestJet’s acquisition by Onex

News provided by Travelweek Group – link to full story

From the first headlines to done deal: WestJet’s acquisition by Onex
Photo via @WestJet

Monday, December 30, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group

TORONTO — Back in 1999, when Onex Corporation wanted to merge Air Canada and Canadian Airlines in a $1.8 billion deal, Air Canada came out on top with its $92 million acquisition of the struggling carrier.

Turns out patience really is a virtue. Onex wasn’t victorious that time, but 20 years later, it got its airline. Led by Chairman and CEO Gerry Schwartz, Onex came in strong with its plan to buy WestJet in a $5 billion deal, including debt.

The travel industry got a wake up call from the weekend that Monday, May 13 when Onex announced its intentions to buy WestJet. The two companies revealed they had been in talks since March.

WestJet was flying high with its new Dreamliners, a new look and a new marketing strategy aimed at the premium market, however it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The airline had a tough go in 2018 due in part to a to-the-brink pilot’s strike (thankfully averted) and its first quarterly loss in 13 years.

There have been some bumps on the tarmac for WestJet’s ultra low-cost carrier Swoop as well, in the wake of consumer frustration after multiple flight cancellations this past summer. However in a crowded field, with Air Canada Rouge and Flair Airlines, the ULCC welcomed its 1 millionth passenger in May 2019, and in December was named Start-up Airline of the Year at the CAPA World Aviation Outlook Summit.

The WestJet board of directors unanimously recommended that WestJet shareholders vote in favour of the Onex transaction, and with green lights from all the right places, the deal got sign-off on Dec. 11.

Onex is taking WestJet private and CEO Ed Sims has said there’s relief at the airline to be escaping the scrutiny that comes with being a public company. Sims has likened the pressure of posting quarterly results to being a gardener and pulling up seedling carrots every three months to see how they’re growing.

The first of WestJet’s Dreamliners began arriving in Calgary earlier this year and the carrier has options for an additional 10 aircraft to arrive between 2020 and 2024. The Dreamliners carry 320 guests in a three-class cabin configuration, including WestJet’s new Business cabin featuring 16 private pods with lie-flat seats, an upscale Premium cabin and an updated Economy cabin.

In October the carrier announced its newest European destination, Rome, with new nonstop Dreamliner seasonal service out of Calgary starting May 2, 2020. WestJet’s is looking to boost capacity by 200,000 seats on key Dreamliner routes out of Calgary. WestJet passengers flying out of Toronto and Vancouver will get more domestic and transatlantic 787-9 Dreamliner service for summer 2020 as well.

The industry watches, and waits: the proposed Air Canada-Transat deal The industry watches, and waits: the proposed Air Canada-Transat deal

News provided by Travelweek Group – link to full story

The industry watches, and waits: the proposed Air Canada-Transat deal

Monday, December 30, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group

TORONTO — The travel industry was still abuzz about the proposed acquisition of WestJet by private equity firm Onex Corp., announced May 13, 2019, when word came later that week that Air Canada was looking to buy Transat.

Just two weeks before, on April 30, Transat revealed that it was fielding interest from a number of suitors for its acquisition. Those suitors included Quebecor Inc., led by chief executive Pierre Karl Peladeau, and Group Mach. As it turned out, Group Mach wouldn’t back down quietly.

The-industry-watches-and-waits-the-proposed-Air-Canada-Transat-deal

Air Canada was more than a little interested too. On May 16 Air Canada and Transat announced they had entered into an exclusive agreement that would see Air Canada buying Transat in a $520 million deal, later upped to $720 million.

While the WestJet-Onex deal became official on Dec. 11, the proposed Air Canada-Transat deal is still in the midst of a 250-day public interest assessment.

The proposed deal was immediately on the radar for the Competition Bureau and other regulatory authorities, including those in Europe. A combined Air Canada – Transat would command some 60% of the transatlantic market out of Canada. There are also concerns about job losses. Air Canada has said that the proposed deal would create a Montreal-based global travel services company in leisure, tourism and travel distribution operating across Canada and internationally.

Meanwhile, like a suitor scorned, Group Mach was back on the scene in early June, making a rival bid for Transat. The Quebec-based real estate developer stepped up with a new bid worth $14 per share, topping Air Canada’s offer of $13 per share.

The war of words played out like a bad soap opera, with Transat calling Group Mach’s offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”. Group Mach CEO Vincent Chiara called Air Canada’s bid “unhealthy.”

Even Quebecor’s Peladeau came back on the scene. Peladeau, who is said to own a 1.6% stake in Transat A.T., said he planned to vote against the Air Canada bid because it is “contrary to the public interest.” Other major shareholders expressed their dissatisfaction with Air Canada’s offer as well.

But on Aug. 23, Air Canada’s offer, since boosted to $720 million ($18 per share), got a resounding yes from an overwhelming majority of Transat’s shareholders, giving the proposed acquisition another green light on the road to completion.

Will the deal go through? The travel industry is watching and waiting, not only to see how the two airlines will combine forces, but also to see what will happen with the two tour operators, including Transat’s fledgling resorts division, not to mention Transat’s retail arm. Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) has over 400 locations, from bricks-and-mortar including Transat Travel, Marlin Travel and more, to home-based.

An unforgettable year for Canada’s airlines: A look back at 2019

News provided by Travelweek Group – link to full story

Travelweek News top story
An unforgettable year for Canada’s airlines: A look back at 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group

TORONTO — It was a whirlwind 12 months for airline acquisition news. And it all started with one particularly surprising week in May.

On May 13 WestJet announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement for its acquisition by Onex Corporation for an all-cash deal worth $5 billion.

On May 16, three days later, Air Canada and Transat said they were in negotiations, with the upshot that Air Canada was looking to buy Transat for some $520 million (ultimately boosted to $720 million).

The Air Canada-Transat announcement certainly put an end to any conjecture that Onex might be looking to acquire Transat too, adding Transat’s strengths in the east to WestJet’s in the west.

Canada’s airline industry, relatively calm for many years, was suddenly headline news again as the financial pundits weighed in on both deals.

Amid all that, over the course of 2019 airlines became public enemy number one for climate change concerns.

'There's nobody to talk to': New Air Canada booking system leaves some travellers hanging

News provided by CBC News – link to full story and updates

Changing flights and redeeming reward points two issues customers are facing

Natasha Riebe · CBC News · Posted: Dec 31, 2019 8:00 AM MT

Air Canada says the new booking system took two years to develop and that issues during a transition period are normal. (Mike Hillman/CBC)

A new reservation system at Air Canada is causing frustration for some customers trying to change flights, use rewards points or request bereavement fares.

Aaron Churchill, an interior designer in Edmonton, tried to change a flight he booked for Jan. 30 after learning his client in Columbus, Ohio needed to reschedule a job. 

He entered his reservation number on Air Canada’s website but it wouldn’t allow him to reschedule online. 

Churchill called the reservation line, as directed by Air Canada, and got a recorded message, over and over. 

“I keep trying to call back and I keep trying to get a hold of someone and there’s absolutely no one to get a hold of,” Churchill told CBC News Monday. “I’ve tried to communicate with Air Canada at least 28 times and I can’t get through.”
  
“My frustration is — here you can book online, they will gladly take your money but then when you go to try to communicate with somebody at Air Canada they actually don’t allow you to talk to a human being.”

Churchill said he might have to drive to the airport to talk to a customer service agent in person. 

In a statement to CBC News, Air Canada said the new reservation system that launched in mid-November is working as planned, for the most part. 

“The new system, implemented after a two-year project involving 700,000 hours of development, is highly complex and, as with any IT project of this magnitude, a transition period is normal and issues do arise.” 

The airline said the issues are mainly affecting customers trying to change existing bookings.

The customer service line plays a message in English and French recorded by the director for contact centres worldwide, who apologizes for the delays.

“Call volumes are significantly higher than normal. Due to current volumes, I apologize that we are not able to place you on hold at this time,” the message says.

The recording advises customers to contact Air Canada within 24 hours of their travel date if the request relates to an existing booking.

If their flight is more than 24 hours away, it asks customers to call back closer to that date.

The company has a web page dedicated to frequently asked questions, on which it admits some Aeroplan members are unable to redeem miles for flight rewards.

Some accounts haven’t been transferred over to the new system, it says, but they’re “working as quickly as possible to restore full functionality to these accounts.”

Customers aren’t able to confirm same-day changes online. 

“Until we complete our system roll-out, this functionality is temporarily unavailable through self-serve channels.”

The company admits the new system hasn’t been implemented completely, that it’s expected to be rolled out in full in the “new year.”

Aaron Churchill, middle, said he’s tried to contact Air Canada 28 times since he booked a flight on Dec. 12. (Aaron Churchill)

It’s little comfort to customers like Laurence Robinson looking for a bereavement ticket to Kingston, Jamaica, to attend his grandfather’s funeral in mid-January. 

He tried to apply online and saw that customers are required to call when requesting a bereavement fare. 

“There’s nobody to talk to. The machine just tells you options of how you can do things online — it says nothing about bereavement.”  

Robinson said he was very close to his grandfather and that many family members are expected to attend the funeral. 

“I mean, I have to go no matter what the cost is,” he said. “But I was just hoping the more I could reduce my expense on the flight, because we’re all contributing to the funeral, I could provide more to the funeral.” 

Robinson sent the company an email and received a reply, saying “You can rest assured that an Air Canada representative will get back to you as soon as possible.”

In the message, the company said it may take up to three weeks for a response. 

Robinson said he ended up buying a regular ticket but hopes to retroactively receive the bereavement discount.