Welcome to the WestJet Elevation Lounge

Airline set to open flagship lounge within its home at the YYC Calgary International Airport on November 2

CALGARY, AB, Oct. 27, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, WestJet is proud to reveal its flagship lounge – the WestJet Elevation Lounge.

Boasting more than 9,300 square feet of premium space with panoramic views and Canadian-inspired details, the WestJet Elevation Lounge blends contemporary design with refined mountain living inspired by Canada’s diverse landscape. The flagship space was designed in collaboration with global architecture and design firm Gensler to carefully consider the needs and safety of guests and frequent travellers. Click here to see more photos.

The WestJet Elevation Lounge blends contemporary design with refined mountain living inspired by Canada’s diverse landscape and features playful interpretations of WestJet’s home province weaved throughout. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
The lounge boasts more than 9,300 square feet of premium space with panoramic views and Canadian-inspired details. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
Dedicated focus spaces to unplug or plug-in for business and leisure featuring WiFi, free printing and reservable meeting space with digital amenities. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
The opening of Elevation Lounge demonstrates WestJet’s ongoing commitment to growing its presence and premium guest experience in Calgary. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
The flagship space was designed to carefully consider the needs and safety of guests and frequent travellers and features a dedicated family space with activities for kids to interact with and explore. (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

“The opening of the WestJet Elevation Lounge is a pivotal moment for our business and demonstrates our commitment to delivering world-class experiences both on the ground and in the air,” said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “It was only fitting to open this flagship space within our home hub in Calgary. The lounge will provide our top-tier WestJet Rewards members and business cabin travellers with a safe and comfortable place to rest, rejuvenate and work when visiting YYC.”

Working in partnership with The Calgary Airport Authority, the Elevation Lounge will open to the public on November 2, 2020 and is conveniently located at Concourse B of the Domestic Terminal and is accessible to guests departing from Concourses A, B and C, as well as Concourse D of the International Terminal (when accessed from security checkpoint B or C).

“The WestJet Elevation Lounge is a global first and we are excited and proud that YYC Calgary International Airport is its home. WestJet is YYC’s biggest airline—by seats, by departures and by destinations served. Having the flagship WestJet Elevation Lounge here in Calgary means our mutual guests will have a new premium travel experience with great local amenities at the highest health and safety standards,” said Rob Palmer, Vice President of Commercial, Strategy & Chief Financial Officer, The Calgary Airport Authority.

Guests departing or connecting on domestic or international flights can look forward to an elevated experience inside the lounge including:

  • Chef-designed and freshly prepared menu that highlights local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Signature beverages designed and delivered by dedicated bartenders; a premium selection of wine; and beer options from Calgary’s own breweries, including WestJet’s Elevation beer on tap by The Dandy Brewing Company, and an XPA by Annex Ale Project. All served from a vibrant and social bar in the heart of the lounge.
  • Dedicated focus spaces to unplug or plug-in for business and leisure featuring WiFi, free printing and reservable meeting space with digital amenities.
  • Refreshing spaces including reservable and private shower facilities.
  • WestJet Priority Service Agents to assist with travel plans, share expertise on local information and provide the caring service WestJetters are known for.
  • Exclusive artwork by Calgary-based artist Mandy Stobo featuring an immersive augmented reality experience.
  • Playful interpretations of WestJet’s home province weaved throughout the space including a statement graphic of Canmore’s Three Sisters mountain peaks above the bar.
  • Curated Canadian products from local companies such as Rocky Mountain Soap Company and Calgary’s own Fratello Coffee Roasters.
  • Dedicated family space with activities for kids to interact with and explore.

Once inside the Elevation Lounge guests will experience many of WestJet’s enhanced health, safety and sanitization measures that have been implemented to ensure guest safety throughout their journey through the airline’s Safety Above All program. The Elevation Lounge features:

  • Contactless, self-serve entry.
  • Mandatory face masks for guests and staff, except when eating and drinking.
  • A thoughtful floor plan with reduced capacity to ensure physical distancing.
  • Ability to order food and beverages directly to table using personal devices.
  • An enhanced and continuous cleaning regimen including electrostatic spraying, plexiglass shields at high interaction areas and hand sanitizers placed in high-touch zones.

As the carrier with the most flights from Calgary and the only Canadian carrier flying internationally currently from YYC, the opening of Elevation Lounge demonstrates WestJet’s ongoing commitment to growing its presence and premium guest experience in Calgary. The lounge’s completion is marked by two years of thoughtful research, planning and construction within the YYC Calgary International Airport.

Complete entry and eligibility details are available here.

Additional Quotes:

“The Elevation Lounge offers guests, including our top-tier WestJet Rewards members and Business cabin guests a premium space to relax, refresh or focus in our biggest hub,” said d’Arcy Monaghan, WestJet Vice-President, Loyalty Programs. “This flagship space was designed with feedback from our top-tier members and focuses on the needs and expectations of frequent flyers and premium travellers. It is an extension of our successful guest-service model offered when travelling in Business and Premium cabins.”

“We’re excited to join WestJet to bring their in-air experience to the Elevation Lounge,” said David Loyola, Design Principal, Gensler. “Inspired by the local landscape, the design, colour palette and materials create a contemporary mountain-inspired retreat where guests can replenish, refresh and refocus for their next journey.”

“Govan Brown are thrilled to work with WestJet on this exciting project that will further differentiate its brand in the marketplace,” said Joseph Kirk, President, Govan Brown & Associates Limited. “We realize the importance of this initiative and were committed to the standard and quality that WestJet expects of its partners.  We could not be happier with the results and sincerely thank the WestJet team for the opportunity to be its trusted construction partner.”

Airplane Parking Lot in Middle of Nowhere Has Never Been Busier

From BNN Bloomberg – link to story

Paul Allen, Bloomberg News | 26 Oct 2020

(Bloomberg) — Aircraft engineer Dan Baker expected his career would let him see the world. And since starting as an apprentice aged 16 with British Airways in London, it’s taken him to Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the Middle East, where he worked for Emirates.

Now he’s in a desert of a different sort — Australia’s vast red center. With the coronavirus pandemic upending global aviation and putting millions out of work, Baker has found an unlikely job in Alice Springs, storing and maintaining scores of grounded jumbo jets.

“I had to do a bit of looking up to see what life would be like,” Baker, 49, says of his new surrounds, a remote town of 25,000 better known as a jumping off point for famous sights like Uluru and the Olgas. “So far, it’s been great.”

The Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility (APAS) makes a strange and eerie sight, with the flat landscape punctuated by familiar tall tail fins against a brooding desert sky. More than 100 planes are stored at the purpose-built facility adjacent to the airport, which can keep jets maintained and ready to be brought back into service when needed. Despite spiraling Covid-19 case numbers in Europe and the U.S., some are returning to the skies.

Data from aviation analytics company Cirium show the number of aircraft making at least one flight per day in the Asia-Pacific region is almost back to pre-Covid levels. That’s largely thanks to recovering domestic markets in places like China, where the outbreak is more or less under control.

International routes, however, remain weak. The International Air Transport Association last month downgraded its traffic forecast for 2020 to reflect a weaker-than-expected recovery. The group, which represents some 290 airlines, now expects full-year traffic to be down 66% versus 2019, more than a previous estimate of a 63% decline. Tellingly, tail fins from Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. — both carriers without a domestic market — are most commonly seen at the facility.

Cirium data also show the number of planes in storage around much of Asia declining. At Alice Springs, though, the numbers keep rising. Many Asian locations are too humid for long-term storage of aircraft, so planes that were parked there on the expectation of a quick return to the skies are now heading to Alice Springs, whose dry, desert air and cool nights make for near-perfect storage conditions.

APAS Managing Director Tom Vincent says the idea of a storage facility in Australia’s center had been around for a long time. But the former Deutsche Bank AG debt analyst was the first to act on it, raising A$5.5 million ($4 million) and clearing a slew of regulatory requirements to build it in 2013 before accepting his first plane a year later.

Vincent, 42, is planning for his facility to become the main southern hemisphere hub for long-term aircraft storage, even after the pandemic is over. He’s about to submit planning applications for a fourth expansion, including another huge fenced platform that will accommodate a further 60 wide-body jets, taking capacity to between 250 and 300 aircraft.

“It’s been intense,” Vincent says of 2020. He expects the number of planes parked at APAS to eventually settle at around 200. “It’s been an incredibly difficult time for the industry. Yes, there will be certain aircraft that go back into operation, hopefully sooner rather than later, but there’s still a huge pipeline of aircraft that are going to require parking and maintenance.”

Vincent has been on a necessary hiring spree, expanding to more than 80 employees, from locally hired administrative staff to highly skilled aircraft engineers like Baker.

Just two weeks into his new job, Baker’s days are spent supervising a three-stage induction process for each new plane, ranging from draining the engines of fluids to ensuring every last gap and crevice in the jet’s body is sealed from dust and insects.

One of the areas most at risk during long-term storage is the pitot-static system, a tiny opening at the front of every jet, and the static port, another cavity a little further along the side of the aircraft. Together, these two sensors provide airspeed data. “It’s fundamental to flight,” the New Zealand native explains from the packed dirt platform where the jets are prepared. “We get that covered up pretty quickly.”

It takes a team of a dozen people up to five days to induct a plane for storage. Two of those are spent entirely on taping and covering everything to protect the engines and systems, a process that can take between 40 and 50 rolls of tape.

While Vincent, an Australian who splits his time between Alice Springs and Brisbane, is reluctant to share the typical cost of storing a plane, he says every two weeks, APAS gets through a pallet of tape that costs almost A$50,000. Every plane has different requirements, depending on the manual. Airbus SE, for example, requires all passenger windows be covered and taped as well, while Boeing Co. does not.

Once inducted, sealed and towed to a parking bay, each plane is on a rolling system of seven, 30 and 90-day checks. During this time, bags of desiccant in the engine bays are examined, tires are rotated and brake systems are maintained. Storing a plane is certainly not simply a matter of parking it and walking away.

Vincent says aircrews can become quite nostalgic when they step off the plane for the last time.

“I meet most crews as they come off the aircraft,” he says. “They’re not sure when they’re going to see the aircraft again. Usually there’s photos. We like to say we’re going to look forward to when they come back to pick them up.”

Exactly when that might be remains an open question. For now, these planes sit silently in the Australian outback, a surreal monument to a different time.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Airline pilots’ union plans protest at Pearson International Airport

From Toronto Sun – link to story

Bryan Passifiume | Oct 26, 2020 

The air traffic control tower at Toronto Pearson International Airport . Postmedia files

Calling on federal support of airlines and the expansion of the government’s airport rapid testing program, airline pilots will rally at Pearson International Airport on Friday.

Organized by Unifor, Local 7378 — which represents Sunwing pilots — Friday’s rally is one of three calls for action planned across Canada.

Last week, a rapid testing project was launched at Calgary International Airport, allowing international passengers arriving in Alberta to take a COVID-19 test — followed by a second seven days later — to forego the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Spearheading the push towards a Canada-wide airport rapid testing program, Local 7378 wants Premier Doug Ford to put pressure on the federal government to expand the program across Canada.

“The aviation industry needs support,” said Barret Armann, Local 7378 president.

“Both the federal and provincial governments have done little to ensure this industry and its taxpaying workers and families survive the pandemic.”

Armann said after the government decreased the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for furloughed airline employees, the aviation sector is now both the worst-hit and least-supposed industry during the pandemic.

With some exceptions, only Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal are permitted to accept international flights since COVID-19 directives were enacted in March.

Further marches are planned in Vancouver and Montreal on the following two Fridays.

Canada’s transport regulator hasn’t settled a single COVID-19 flight cancellation complaint

From CBC News – link to story

Agency says it’s weeks away from starting to address some of the 10,000 cases filed since March

Raisa Patel, Ashley Burke · CBC News · Oct 26, 2020

The Canadian Transportation Agency says it’s in the process of reviewing complaints received during the COVID-19 pandemic and has tallied about 4,300 related to passengers seeking refunds so far. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

The Canadian Transportation Agency has failed to settle a single complaint from Canadians demanding refunds for cancelled flights since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBC News has learned. 

The independent tribunal said it has been inundated with close to 10,000 complaints from mid-March, when global air travel largely ground to a halt, until Oct. 16. 

The agency confirmed it’s still processing complaints it received before March 11; it has yet to deal with any cases filed during the public health crisis.

For months, Canada’s Transport Minister has told Canadians if they are unsatisfied with refunds, the course of action is to file complaints with the tribunal.

Carly Aubertin and her husband Rob McLean are upset that they filed a complaint in April, which has been sitting in limbo ever since.

“It’s just so disheartening,” said Aubertin. “It’s frustrating that the government’s not there to support us.” 

The Ontario residents are considering selling their home as they wrestle with living off a single income because the pandemic has hurt McLean’s business. Sunwing gave them a voucher for a cancelled trip to Antigua due to COVID, rather than a full refund that could help pay their mortgage until the spring.

 “Right now, I mean, $5,000? There’s five months of mortgage right there,” Aubertin said.

Long backlog before pandemic started

The delay is partially due to a two-year backlog of complaints the CTA received before the pandemic struck. The backlog is tied to a significant influx of complaints received after new air passenger protection regulations came into effect in December 2019.

COVID-19 hampered further efforts to process complaints; the CTA temporarily paused its discussions with airlines regarding “dispute resolution activities” until June 30, 2020 to allow airlines to focus on more urgent matters. The agency also granted airlines an extension until Oct. 28 to respond to passengers seeking compensation.

But the CTA says it’s making progress on tackling the caseload. The agency processed a record number of complaints in the past fiscal year. The administrative tribunal also received a funding boost to get through cases more quickly and says it’s weeks away from starting on complaints filed during the pandemic.

An ongoing battle for closure

The agency said it’s now working through about 17,300 complaints. It is still in the process of reviewing all complaints filed during the pandemic, but so far has counted 4,300 related to refunds, the agency said.

Those includes complaints from Canadians like Aubertin and McLean, who spent about $5,000 for a spring vacation with a group of friends to celebrate some of their 40th and 50th birthdays.

McLean found himself without work during the pandemic, meaning the Port Robinson, Ont., couple has started to dip into their retirement savings. His last pay cheque was in February. 

“It’s frustrating because in these times we hear the leaders of our country saying to look out for everybody and do the right thing and respect your community, and then to allow these multimillion dollar companies to keep our money interest free for an extended period of time doesn’t feel like the right thing to us,” McLean said. 

Aubertin said the obstacles have been particularly disappointing given that other countries have taken a firmer stance on helping passengers.

In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice reminding U.S. and foreign airlines that they “remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers” despite the pandemic and warned that it would take “enforcement action” as necessary.

Carly Aubertin, left, and Rob McLean, right, have emailed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for help — but his office said the couple’s only option was to file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency. (Submitted)

In Canada, airlines have been asking the government for financial help to survive an unprecedented drop in business during the height of the pandemic. In many cases, airlines have been issuing travel vouchers redeemable for two years, rather than refunds. 

The CTA said it issued a “non-binding statement” on issuing vouchers in the face of “unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances” during the pandemic.

The agency said the industry collapsed worldwide and there was an “absence of any general minimum obligation under the law for airlines to pay refunds for flights cancelled for reasons beyond their control.”

After months of public outrage, WestJet announced last week it was changing its refund policy on Nov. 2 to give customers back money for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

Air Canada took to Twitter shortly afterwards and said it’s already repaid $1.2 billion to date for refundable tickets cancelled during the pandemic.

John Gradek, a former Air Canada executive and lecturer at McGill University’s aviation management program, said the timing is no coincidence.

Canada’s major airlines — WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat, Sunwing and Swoop — are facing a series of class action lawsuits over refunds during COVID and the federal court certification hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

Gradek also believes airlines realized there wasn’t public support for a government bailout unless carriers refunded passengers first. The Globe and Mail reported Friday cabinet is currently deliberating a package for the aviation sector that includes scaling back airport fee increases and low interest loans.

CTA losing credibility, Bloc MP says

Passengers and consumers have a right to feel upset about the federal government’s lack of action, said Bloc Québécois MP and transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval.

On Friday, he presented a bill seeking to amend the Canada Transportation Act in order to ensure passengers are fully refunded in the event that an air carrier cancels a flight. 

He said Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s failure to resolve the issue has put undue pressure on the CTA.

“By not acting, Mr. Garneau’s transferring the weight of the situation on the shoulders of the CTA and that’s a big problem,” said Barsalou-Duval. 

“[The CTA is] losing credibility. And that’s the big problem because usually they’re supposed to… apply the rules, apply the law.”

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office has stated for months that he sympathizes with those seeking refunds, while reiterating that airlines are going through a difficult time. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In a statement to CBC News on Sunday, Garneau said he understood the frustration.

“This situation is far from ideal,” he said. “We are encouraged to see that some airlines have refunded their customers, and expect air carriers will do their best to accommodate passengers under these extraordinary circumstances,” the statement read.

“This is an important issue to Canadians. We also continue to work with the airlines to address the overall challenges they are facing due to the pandemic.”

With files from CBC’s Charlsie Agro

Canada’s airlines need a federal bailout before it’s too late — but all carriers should offer customers cash refunds first

Opinion

By David Olive – Star Business Columnist | Sat., Oct. 24, 2020

Canada’s airlines need a federal bailout, which most of their peers worldwide long ago received.

The alternative is that Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., which account for most of Canada’s air traffic, become insolvent as early as next year.

That, in turn, would stall Canada’s economic recovery, and cut Canadians off from each other as hundreds of communities lose their air service.

That doomsday scenario might seem impossible.

After all, Ottawa has rushed to provide individual Canadians and businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic assistance.

With their spending, unprecedented in its speed, enormity and thorough coverage of every sector of the economy, the feds are determined to prepare Canada for a coiled-spring economic boom once the pandemic has passed.

Well, almost every sector. Ottawa has overlooked the airlines.

Airlines worldwide have received about $123 billion in government pandemic assistance. Canadian airlines have received next to nothing.

When Canadian airlines, through their trade association, made their umpteenth request for urgent assistance this week, Ottawa responded by calling attention to the more than $1 billion the airlines have received in federal wage subsidies.

That response entirely misses the point.

The feds’ payroll assistance is welcome, to be sure, but woefully insufficient to keep these enterprises in operation.

Airlines are burdened with notoriously high fixed costs, which must be paid whether the airlines are generating revenues or not.

True, the airlines’ fuel and payroll costs have fallen as demand has cratered. But airlines’ fixed costs for debt servicing, aircraft lease payments and airport landing rights outweigh their meagre revenues. That accounts for the huge quarterly losses that the world’s biggest carriers are continuing to post.

Air Canada, for instance, has recorded losses of $2 billion so far this year. And in reporting its 2020 second-quarter results, Air Canada forecast that it will lose as much as $1.6 billion in the third quarter, or $17 million per day.

As a private company, WestJet does not report its financial performance. But its owner, Toronto merchant banker Onex Corp., recorded a first-quarter loss of $1.1 billion related to the pandemic. Most of the loss was attributable to WestJet, which Onex acquired late last year.

In its 2020 second quarter, its most recent reporting period, Air Canada carried just 4 per cent of the passengers it flew in the same period in 2019.

As a result, Air Canada has permanently retired 79 aircraft, or about 30 per cent of its fleet. And by the end of the airline’s second quarter, AC had reduced its total workforce by more than half, or 20,000 positions, through layoffs, attrition and early retirement.

And yet AC’s second-quarter operating costs fell by just 64 per cent, compared with an 89-per-cent plunge in revenues.

The airlines’ success in wringing costs out of their operations is some experts’ best guess on why Ottawa has failed to help the industry.

WestJet CEO Ed Sims wonders if Ottawa said, “Well, (the airlines) didn’t go bust, they’re still here, therefore we are vindicated in not giving them specific sector relief.”

But because of the industry’s high fixed costs, it can’t cost-cut its way to viability.

That’s why Porter Airlines, the Toronto regional carrier, grounded itself March 21, at the outset of the pandemic, and hasn’t flown since. With the second wave of the pandemic upon us, Porter announced last week that it is extending its suspension of operations to Dec. 15.

As essential-service providers from coast to coast, Air Canada and WestJet don’t have that option of total shutdown.

Correction: As of last week, WestJet no longer flies coast to coast. On Oct. 14, WestJet suspended its flights across Atlantic Canada — more than 100 in all — and to Quebec City.

And with that, industry experts warn, begins a great unravelling of the airlines’ route networks, as the two major Canadian carriers keep dropping routes on which their losses are heaviest to stave off insolvency.

An unnoticed consequence of that unravelling is a loss of market share by Canadian carriers to international rivals. This week, WestJet’s Sims estimated that his airline has lost between 10 per and 15 per cent of its business to offshore carriers. He blames Canadian federal and interprovincial restrictions on air travel.

Unions representing thousands of airline workers have called on Ottawa to provide $7 billion in assistance to the industry. Some of them appeared this week on Parliament Hill with signs reading “Save Canadian aviation.”

That $7-billion sum seems to be a reasonable amount, though depending on the duration of the pandemic, it might not be sufficient.

Last spring, the U.S. government provided about $22 billion (U.S.) in assistance to American carriers — almost $16 billion in grants and $6.5 billion in low-interest loans.

But the U.S. airlines have already burned through most of that cash. They are now seeking an additional $25 billion in federal assistance.

It looks like that plea will be answered, given the support for it on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

That will maintain the U.S. carriers’ competitive advantage over Air Canada and WestJet.

The first phase of airline bailouts has proved insufficient in Europe, as well.

Last month, Air France-KLM said its $11.7-billion state bailout will only sustain the airline into next year.

A Canadian government bailout of the airlines should be contingent on carriers offering immediate cash refunds for flights and travel packages cancelled by COVID-19.

It was perhaps in anticipation of substantial federal assistance that WestJet this week began offering refunds on all pandemic-related flight cancellations. Air Canada has already refunded selected customers, but must extend its refunds to all flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

Ottawa could take an equity share in the airlines it bails out, as Germany did in acquiring a 20 per cent stake in Lufthansa AG as part of a $10.1-billion bailout of Europe’s largest airline.

Along with resolving the long-standing refund grievance, partial public ownership of the bailed-out airlines might make the rescue more politically palatable. It might even be a profitable investment.

In the long term, the airline industry has bright prospects. Just before the pandemic, the International Air Transport Association, the global industry’s trade group, forecast a doubling in annual flights worldwide by mid-century, to about 8 billion flights per year.

But even with a government lifeline, Canadian airlines will not quickly bounce back post-pandemic, as the rest of the economy is expected to do.

The work-from-home movement and fear of aircraft-borne COVID-19 will keep air-travel demand from recovering to pre-pandemic levels for an estimated five years.

But a bailout will at least keep the airlines flying. For MPs, that beats walking home to a Beaches-East York riding.

Volatus Aerospace Welcomes New Director of Finance

MONTREAL, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Volatus Aerospace, a fast-growing integrated provider of unmanned aircraft and drone services, appoints Abhinav Singhvi to the position of Director of Finance.

Mr. Singhvi is a Finance & Investment professional with over 10 years of experience in Tech startups, Fortune 500 companies, and Venture Capital firms. He is a Chartered Accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance & Economics), from Nagpur University in India and a Master of Business Administration from Schulich School of Business. Mr. Singhvi brings expertise in finance, M&A, financial modeling, and scaling startups to support the continuing rapid growth of the company.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Abhinav join the Volatus Aerospace leadership team,” said Glen Lynch, CEO of Volatus Aerospace. “His background, experience, and entrepreneurial spirit makes Abhinav the perfect person to help oversee finance for Volatus Aerospace.”

“I am very excited about joining Volatus Aerospace at a time of encouraging growth and increased focus on financial excellence,” said Mr. Singhvi. “With attention to execution excellence across all of their brands, I am convinced that Volatus is well positioned to grow its business in Canada and the Americas.”

Bombardier Announces Closing Date, Amended Terms for Sale of Aerostructures Business to Spirit AeroSystems Holding, Inc.

  • All closing conditions have been met and the parties have agreed on an October 30, 2020 closing date
  • Total transaction valued at ~ $1.2 billion1cash proceeds now expected to be $275 million
  • Sale supports Bombardier’s repositioning as a pure-play business jet company and further strengthens liquidity

All amounts in this press release are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise indicated.

MONTREAL, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) announced today it has entered into an amended definitive agreement to sell its aerostructures business to Spirit AeroSystems Holding, Inc. (Spirit), supporting Bombardier’s strategic decision to reposition itself as a pure-play business aircraft company. This transaction is set to close on October 30, 2020 as all closing conditions have been met.

Under the amended agreement, Spirit will acquire Bombardier’s aerostructures activities and aftermarket services operations in Belfast, U.K.; Casablanca, Morocco; and its aerostructures maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Dallas, U.S. for cash consideration of $275 million, Spirit’s assumption of liabilities, including government refundable advances and pension obligations, valued at $824 million, as well as certain adjustments to the parties’ trading agreements favourable to Bombardier.

“Today’s announcement marks another milestone towards achieving our strategic goal of repositioning Bombardier as a pure-play business jet company,” said Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. “We are very excited about our future as a more focused Company. The proceeds from this transaction and from the pending sale of Bombardier Transportation strengthen our liquidity and position us to begin reshaping our capital structure and address our balance sheet challenges so that we can achieve the full potential of our incredibly talented employees and our industry leading business jet portfolio.”

Government of Canada supports economic recovery through the National Trade Corridors Fund program

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 26, 2020 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and serving Canadians beyond the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It supports projects that contribute to Canada’s continued success in international trade, generate jobs and help stimulate the economy.

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced that Phase 1 work of the International YMX Aerocity of Mirabel’s aero-logistics and industrial hub project will begin as a result of the Government of Canada’s new distribution of investments made for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22. The investments will thus be better adapted to the current reality and will provide immediate financial support to the project to address the challenges facing the aviation sector. The upheaval in the aviation sector caused by the health crisis associated with COVID-19 has affected airports drastically and historically.

The work includes expanding the main apron and converting it to a freight apron, enhancing the area’s road network to improve access to the new freight apron and increasing the aircraft parking area capacity, and building a 20,000 m2 storage area for air cargo and logistics.

On September 3, 2019, we announced a $50 million contribution to improve air cargo and logistics at the International Aerocity of Mirabel. Since last spring however, the pandemic has severely disrupted airport operations, jeopardizing the project launch and as a result, the creation of some 500 jobs.

The Government wants to ensure that our critical gateways and trade corridors remain open and operational so that Canadians can continue to get the essential goods they need to stay safe and healthy, while supporting and stimulating the Canadian economy.

Quotes

“Our government is committed to providing services to citizens at all levels despite the challenges of the pandemic. With this new structure of our investment this year, we are facilitating the launch of the first phase of expansion operations for the International Aerocity of Mirabel’s aero-logistics and industrial hub. This demonstrates our commitment to creating jobs in a sector heavily affected by COVID-19 and to stimulating economic recovery. Mirabel Airport will thus be able to remain competitive on the international market, and with today’s announcement, we can be confident that this project, so important to the local economy and our trade corridors, will be able to move forward without further financial obstacles.”

The Honourable Marc GarneauMinister of Transport

“The Government of Canada’s contribution has been vital, since otherwise ADM would not have been able to start this project, which entails the construction of an industrial building that will allow STELIA Aerospace Canada to put together components for the Airbus plants assembling the A-220. STELIA is an important player in the Mirabel supply chain and we are proud to support it in its expansion plans, which will play a major role in the development of the airport site. Over the past few months, YMX’s cargo business has remained steady, even at the height of the crisis. This confirms the enormous potential of this sector and the importance of acquiring the necessary facilities to absorb the growth in volume of imported and exported goods. In the subsequent phases of the project, still supported by the National Trade Corridors Fund, ADM is committed to continuing the work to further the development of the AeroCity and its partners, for the benefit of the entire community.”

Philippe Rainville,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Aéroports de Montréal

Quick Facts

  • An efficient and reliable transportation system is essential to Canada’s economic growth. The Government of Canada, through the National Trade Corridors Fund, is making investments that will support the flow of goods to international markets. Although the United States remains Canada’s largest trading partner, with $752 billion in trade ($447.1 billion in exports and $304.9 billion in imports) in 2019, trade with international markets is increasing. From 2015 to 2019, trade with Asia (excluding the Middle East) rose by 17.9% to $197.7 billion, while trade with the European Union was up by 26.7% from 2015 to $125.7 billion in 2019.
  • The Government of Canada is making investments that are helping Canadian exporters expand into new markets and take advantage of the new opportunities that exist as a result of the trade agreements the Government has signed over the past three years. By investing in highly export–oriented industries, the Government is committed to creating well-paying jobs and strengthening the Canadian economy.

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WestJet pilots protest ‘outsourced’ flights to Swoop in Calgary

From Global News – link to story

By Kaylen Small Global News | October 25, 2020

WestJet pilots protested in Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020.
WestJet pilots protested in Calgary on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. Global News

About 50 WestJet pilots protested outside the Calgary International Airport on Sunday to draw attention to what they call the “outsourcing” of WestJet flights to low-cost carrier Swoop.

Though both are owned by the same company — the WestJet Group — protesters said Swoop is flying WestJet’s routes, which means fewer hours for WestJet pilots.

“The biggest issue for us is routes that have been flown by WestJet Airlines over the last two decades are now being flown by Swoop,” said Capt. Dave Colquhoun, WestJet Master Executive Council chair.

“When Swoop was initially envisioned, we were told that wouldn’t happen. Now that it started to happen, especially out of Toronto, we’re concerned about that and we want to bring that concern to the public view.”

Colquhoun said pilots want to see the WestJet Group consult all members on how to grow Swoop.

“They’ve done it unilaterally and they’ve done it in an environment where just recently we gave in major concessions to help them weather the storm,” he said.

“Our pilots have taken substantial cuts in wages and working conditions in order to help our airline through this pandemic. Right now, our guys are flying about a half to a third of what they were a year ago.”

The WestJet Group responded to the union’s concerns, telling Global News that Swoop is important to the company’s future.“[Swoop] is well-positioned to serve price-sensitive travellers while stimulating demand in Canada’s largest market,” it said.

“After a drop in guest traffic of up to 95 per cent and with recovery slower than anticipated, stimulating demand in our industry is critical for our group’s survival. Toronto is our country’s largest air travel market, and every guest who flies with WestJet, Encore or Swoop is a win for our group, assisting in our recovery and supporting our collective future.”

The WestJet Group said its focus is “ensuring we have a long-term sustainable future” while “providing good jobs for thousands.”

There is no anticipated impact on WestJet operations.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Swoop Reaffirms Commitment to Edmonton

The ultra-not-expensive airline kicks off its winter schedule with inaugural flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport and seasonal start of Phoenix-Mesa and Mexico flights

EDMONTON, AB, Oct. 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Swoop, the ultra-not-expensive airline, reaffirmed its commitment to Edmonton International Airport today with the launch of its winter schedule including the addition of non-stop service to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

“We are excited to be expanding our ultra-low cost carrier model from Edmonton by adding Toronto to our network” said Bert van der Stege, Head of Commercial & Finance at Swoop. “We know that Canadians are cautious about travelling, and with the significant health and safety measures we have put in place, travellers can rest assured that their safety is our top priority.”  

The inaugural winter schedule operations this week will also include a return to popular sun destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Phoenix-Mesa, while continuing to serve Abbotsford and Hamilton from Edmonton International Airport.

“We’ve clearly heard from sun seekers that they’re looking for options this winter. Thanks to Swoop, we’re able to help meet that demand. Safety and security is our top priority and we’re confident EIA is ready for these flights in close partnership with the airline. These flights will be safe and will make it possible for local travellers, including snowbirds, to still get their traditional winter break,” says Tom Ruth, President & CEO, Edmonton International Airport. 

“In a challenging year like we are having, we know that it is more important than ever to help Canadians connect with family and friends. We want to help travellers do that safely, responsibly and affordably,” van der Stege added.

Some of the health and safety measures Swoop has introduced includes stricter boarding processes allowing for shorter queue wait times, enhanced screening measures, increased sanitization, and enforcing face masks to be worn for the duration of the flight.  

Additionally, all transborder and international round-trip Swoop flight and Swoop Getaways bookings include no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance coverage. This complimentary coverage is added to eligible bookings automatically at time of purchase, made on or after Oct. 15 for travel until Apr. 24, 2021, and is valid for up to 21 days in destination. 

The start of its winter schedule marks the next step in Swoop’s recovery efforts while remaining true to its mission of offering accessible and affordable air travel to Canadians. As the country’s largest ultra-low cost carrier, the airline is uniquely positioned to help drive industry recovery with price-sensitive travellers.