Flying into the sunset: Air Canada’s last Boeing 767 operates final passenger flight on June 2, 2020

From Air Canada | 3 June 2020

Air Canada’s Rapidair flight AC439 from Montreal to Toronto on June 2, 2020 marks the end of an era as the airline retires the last aircraft it its mainline Boeing 767 fleet.

The 767s have been a workhorse for Air Canada since the first one was delivered in October 1982 (a 767-233, FIN number 601, registered as C-GAUB). That aircraft began transcontinental service on February 14, 1983. After more than 20 years in the skies, the aircraft was retired in 2005.

Between 1982 and 1996, Air Canada would take possession of 25 more 767s, with the first extended range variants for overwater operations arriving in 1984. When Air Canada merged with Canadian Airlines in 2001, another 23 of these widebodies would join the fleet.

Air Canada launched its leisure brand Rouge on July 1, 2013 with a total of four aircraft, of which two were 767s flying to Edinburgh, Venice, and Athens. Air Canada Rouge eventually expanded to include 25 of the long-range 767-300ERs that served mainly European and sun destinations. In May 2020, Air Canada announced that in addition to the planned retirement of the remaining five 767s in its mainline fleet, the 767s from Rouge would also be retired from service.

Air Canada’s 767s made history when the first ever air-to-ground telephone service by a Canadian airline was offered on February 9, 1986, during AC915 between Miami to Toronto. Also in February 1986, Executive Class was introduced on the 767s.

Fun Facts:

  • Air Canada Boeing 767 Fin 682 (C-FCAE) registered over 138,000 flying hours before it was retired on August 1, 2019, making it the world leader in terms of flying hours for the fleet type.  The aircraft was sold late last year to another airline which is currently converting it for cargo operations.
  • The 767 was initially designed to be operated with a three-pilot crew. Although Air Canada’s first few 767s had an extra-large flight deck, they were configured to be operated by two pilots.
  • The 767 was the first aircraft to receive 120-minute ETOPS (extended twin-engine operations) approval in 1985, meaning it could operate two hours away from the nearest airport, making oceanic crossings more efficient. This was increased to 180 minutes in 1988.
  • Air Canada flew 23 B767-200 and -200ER (extended range version) aircraft with the variants being retired in 2008. Most of these aircraft were parked in the desert in Mojave, California and some in Roswell, New Mexico.
  • Some 767s were retrofitted with winglets for fuel efficiency. The winglets are 11 feet tall! Winglets reduce drag and increase lift at the end of the wings and reduce fuel consumption by helping jets more efficiently slice through the air.
  • The mainline Boeing 767 has a seating capacity of 24 in Air Canada Signature Class and 187 in Economy. It has a range of 10,549 kilometres at a cruising altitude of up to 41,000 feet and a cruising speed of 853 kilometres per hour. Cargo capacity in the belly is a maximum of 14,800 kilograms.
  • The longest scheduled nonstop flight by an Air Canada 767 was Toronto to Tokyo, which lasted 13:45 and covered 10,324 kilometres.
  • The Boeing 767 served a number of special missions during its time at Air Canada, including for the annual Dreams Take Flight special charity flights from eight cities across Canada giving special children a trip of a lifetime to a world-renowned theme park in California or Florida.

Aeroplan adds Etihad Airways as an Airline Partner

From Air Canada

Aeroplan’s global network of airline partners can get you to almost anywhere you want to go.  And now, we’re very excited to announce today the addition of Etihad Airways, to our growing roster of airline travel partners. You may recall our “accidental” announcement of this new partnership from last April – we’re pleased to finally announce it to our members!

Starting today, Aeroplan Members can accumulate and redeem Aeroplan Miles for travel with Etihad Airways, bringing the total number of Aeroplan airline partners to 35.

Established in 2003, Etihad Airways is the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates based in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi., Etihad presently offers flights to 76 destinations around the world, with many service resumptions coming soon. 

In terms of Aeroplan Flight Rewards on Etihad flights, note the following:

  • Etihad flights will be subject to our Fixed Mileage Flight Reward chart, available here.
  • Members will be able to book Etihad flights online at aeroplan.com, as well as via our Contact Centre.
  • Etihad flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and our other international partners.
  • Fuel surcharges will not apply on Etihad operated flights.

Air Canada looking to quit Transat deal: reports

News from FlightGlobal – link to story

By Pilar Wolfsteller | 2 June 2020

French-language media in Canada report that legacy carrier Air Canada is looking to exit its planned takeover of Transat AT, the parent company of Air Transat, as Canada’s biggest airline attempts to manage through the coronavirus crisis while preserving its liquidity.

Neither Air Canada nor Transat would comment on the news reports, which first appeared in the French-language daily Journal de Montreal on 2 June. The story cites three sources that say Air Canada is lobbying the Canadian government to block the deal.

Air Canada_B787_2
Source: Air Canada

Air Canada looks to quit merger plans with Transat

Montreal-headquartered Air Canada on 2 June denied that recent meetings with the government had anything to do with the Transat tie-up.

“All meetings registered by Air Canada with government ministers relate to the impact of Covid-19, not the Transat acquisition,” a spokesperson tells FlightGlobal.

When asked specifically about the merger, and the coronavirus’ effects on the company’s strategy regarding Transat, he adds, “There is no change to what we have said previously, which is we are awaiting the outcome of the regulatory review process.”

Transat is the parent company of vacation specialist carrier Air Transat, the number three airline in Canada behind Air Canada and Calgary-based WestJet, and operates a sizable vacation package business.

Last August, Transat’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of Air Canada’s C$720 million ($513 million) takeover bid for the company. That calculates out to C$18 per share. Both entities had said they had expected the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2020, but as time went on that looked less and less likely.

On 2 June Transat’s stock was trading at just C$6.40 per share, making the deal look severely overvalued.

But the transaction has been under close scrutiny for months. In March, the Competition Bureau of the government of Canada had “competition concerns” about the planned takeover, which, it said at the time, could be detrimental to Canadian travelers going to sun destinations as well as Europe.

The merger also faces closer examination in Europe, and the European Commission said last week that it is opening an in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition, which will take up to 90 days.

The transaction as planned would merge the number one and number three airlines in the Canadian market. Earlier this year, WestJet, the country’s second-largest carrier, said it was “watching with great interest” to see if the deal would be approved. 

City officials calling for airlines to resume flights at YQG airport sooner than scheduled

News from CBC News – link to story

Smaller airport size will reduce risk of transmission, says CEO

Sanjay Maru · CBC News · Posted: Jun 02, 2020

All commercial flights at Windsor International Airport have been suspended since early April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC News)

The Windsor International Airport has a number of upsides that would make it appealing for airline companies to resume flights at YQG sooner than scheduled, officials said Tuesday.

During a media conference involving airport CEO Mark Galvin and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens — who also serves as YQG board chair — the two discussed “the new normal” for airlines and travellers once flights begin to resume. Since April, all commercial flights to and from YQG have been suspended.

Porter Airlines and Air Canada are scheduled to resume commercial flights out of Windsor in July and September, respectively. On Tuesday, officials said the airport will have PPE, like masks and sanitizer, available for travellers when commercial flights resume.

Galvin said Windsor International Airport has a great opportunity to rebound from the devastating effects of COVID-19 compared to other airports where airlines have suspended service.

“People are going to gravitate toward areas were they feel a little more comfortable. We’re in a position to take advantage of our location and provide a less-frenzied environment for travellers,” said Galvin.

Galvin said the YQG airport has experienced “leakage” in the local market, as some travellers from Windsor commonly drive across the Canada-U.S. border to fly out of Detroit — but he added the airport will do everything it can “to give passengers a reason to fly in and out of YQG.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, who also serves as YQG board chair, says he hopes Air Canada will consider resuming flights at Windsor International Airport before doing so at other airports where the airline has suspended commercial service. (Turgut Yeter/CBC)

“The things that we can do at a smaller terminal in a smaller airport are going to be a little more difficult for a larger airport to do,” said Galvin, adding there may be trepidation from some travellers to fly out of Detroit even when the border opens up again as fears around COVID-19 continue.

The value of the American dollar compared to its Canadian counterpart has always been a benefit to YQG airport, as travellers would cross the border from Detroit and fly out of Windsor, Dilkens said, adding that’s something the city will refer to when appealing to Air Canada.

People are going to gravitate toward areas were they feel a little more comfortable. We’re in a position to take advantage of our location and provide a less-frenzied environment for travellers.- Mark Galvin, CEO of Windsor International Airport

“There are literally millions and millions of people within a 45-minute drive of this airport,” said Dilkens.

“[With] the fact that Air Canada has indicated September 8th as a restart date, we think that there’s a great business opportunity for them to consider coming back earlier and making sure that YQG is part of the mix earlier than some of the other airports that they’ve also suspended service to until that time.”

Dilkens also said Tuesday that the city is expected to lose a portion of an annual $1 million dividend that the airport normally pays to the municipality since 2015 — because of significant revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

Air Canada Announces Closing of Offering of Shares and Convertible Senior Notes, Raising Gross Proceeds of Nearly C$1.6B

From Air Canada

MONTREAL, June 2, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada (TSX: AC) (the “Company”) today announced the closing of its previously announced underwritten marketed public offering of 35,420,000 Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company (“Shares”) at a price to the public of C$16.25 per Share (the “Share Offering”), for aggregate gross proceeds of C$575,575,000, which includes the exercise in full by the underwriters of their over-allotment option to purchase up to 4,620,000 Shares for additional gross proceeds of C$75,075,000, and its concurrent marketed private placement of convertible senior unsecured notes due 2025 (“Convertible Notes”) for aggregate gross proceeds of US$747,500,000 (or C$1,018,842,5001) (the “Convertible Notes Offering” and together with the Share Offering, the “Offerings”), which includes the exercise in full by the initial purchasers of their over-allotment option to purchase up to US$97,500,000 (or C$132,892,5001) principal amount of Convertible Notes.

The Company will use the net proceeds from the Offerings to supplement the Company’s working capital and other general corporate purposes. The net proceeds from the Offerings will serve to increase Air Canada’s cash position, thereby allowing for additional flexibility both from an operational standpoint and in the implementation of its planned mitigation and recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coming into 2020, Air Canada enjoyed a very strong liquidity position, before the COVID-19 pandemic and government-imposed quarantines and border restrictions destroyed demand and depleted cash. This important financing will allow us to keep our strong relative position and better manage debt leverage and risk as government restrictions are lifted and the market recovers. The positive reaction from the public markets is a strong endorsement of the strength of our franchise,” said Michael Rousseau, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Chief Financial Officer of the Company.

The Shares offered in the Share Offering and the Convertible Notes and Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company issuable upon conversion of the Convertible Notes have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”), or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States except pursuant to an exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and the rules promulgated thereunder and applicable state securities laws.

TD Securities Inc., J.P. Morgan Securities Canada Inc. and Citigroup Global Markets Canada Inc. acted as active bookrunners for the Share Offering. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, TD Securities Inc. and Citigroup Global Markets Canada Inc. acted as active bookrunners for the Convertible Notes Offering.

Feds won’t force airline ticket refunds for COVID-19 cancellations

News from City News 1130 – link to story

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS | Posted May 29, 2020

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. CANADIAN PRESS, Jonathan Hayward

SUMMARY

  • Canada’s transport minister said forced refunds would further devastate industry
  • PM Justin Trudeau said there is a way to balance survival of the industry with fair treatment for consumers

OTTAWA — The federal government is signalling that it won’t force airlines to offer refunds to ticket holders for flights cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal transport minister Marc Garneau said Friday mandating a reimbursement on a sector that has lost more than 90 per cent of its revenue during the lockdown would basically cripple an industry that’s of vital importance to Canada.

“If airlines had to immediately reimburse all cancelled tickets it would have a devastating effect on the air sector which has been reeling since the COVID-19 pandemic started,” he said.

On airline refunds, Prime Minister repeats message that it is a fine balance to make sure Canadian consumers are treated fairly, & airlines don’t face further financial devastation. Wants to make sure there is an airline industry after this pandemic #COVID19 #cdnpoli

Cormac Mac Sweeney✔@cmaconthehill

Similarly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said consumer concerns can be addressed fairly, but the industry’s survival must also be ensured.

“We will continue to work with the industry and with concerned groups of Canadians to ensure that we find a fair way through this. But I know Canadians at the same time want to make sure we continue to have an airline industry after this very difficult pandemic. Getting that balance right and listening to Canadians is what we will do.”

In recent weeks, Canadian consumer pressure has intensified on the likes of Air Canada and WestJet to offer full refunds instead of the flight vouchers currently used for cancelled flights. WestJet is offering flight vouchers usable within two years. Air Canada is refunding its refundable ticket holders, but those holding non-refundable tickets have been offered vouchers that don’t expire or conversion of credits into Aeroplan Miles.

Canadian airlines could ‘fail’ if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister

News from CBC News – link to story

Passengers argue they’re the ones giving interest-free loans to the airline industry

Ashley Burke · CBC News · May 29, 2020

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says it’s his responsibility to make sure Canada’s airlines survive the pandemic. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that Canadian airlines could go bankrupt if the ailing industry is compelled to refund passengers billions of dollars for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I have said many times that I have enormous sympathy for those who would have preferred to have a cash refund in these difficult circumstances. It is far from being an ideal situation,” Garneau told a press conference earlier today.

“At the same time, if airlines had to immediately reimburse all cancelled tickets, it would have a devastating effect on the air sector, which has been reeling since the COVID 19 pandemic started.”

Garneau was doubling down on a message he delivered to the House of Commons’ pandemic committee on Thursday, when he warned MPs that if airlines “had to reimburse at this time, some of them could fail.”

The minister said today it’s his responsibility to help Canada’s airlines survive the pandemic.

“It is so essential for this country,” he said. “This is the second largest country on Earth, with its distances and remote areas, and we expect and need an airline industry in this country.”

Watch | Reporters question Marc Garneau about airline ticket refunds

But his response isn’t sitting well with Canadians struggling financially during the pandemic who argue it’s their right as consumers to get their money back for flights they never took.

“It’s very disappointing and frustrating,” said Tammie Fang, a health care essential worker in B.C. “My rights as a consumer have been put aside to help balance the airline industry.”

Fang works at a New Westminster hospital assisting with open-heart surgeries. She said she spends much of her spare time calling and emailing Air Transat seeking a refund of roughly $500 for a flight to Toronto she never took. She describes it as an extra burden during an already stressful and financially challenging time.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “It’s unbelievable how much effort we have to put in.”

Airlines’ survival versus consumers’ rights

Canada’s airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and most of the country’s airline fleet is sitting idle at airports across the country. Airlines are losing 90 per cent of their normal revenue streams and some have put their operations completely on pause.

At the same time, pressure is mounting on the federal government to step in and force airlines to pay back passengers who also are struggling financially. Two petitions with more than 30,000 signatures combined have been submitted to Parliament in recent weeks calling on the government to demand that airlines tapping into taxpayer-funded government supports reimburse grounded passengers.

Most large passenger planes around the world have been grounded due to the pandemic. (Nick Oxford/Reuters)

Billions tied up in refunds

For the most part, Canadian airlines are offering those passengers travel vouchers redeemable for two years. Air Canada also announced last week that it’s allowing people to transfer their tickets to others, which could permit ticket holders to sell them. The Canadian Transportation Agency has said offering vouchers could be a reasonable measure in the current circumstances.

Garneau’s office said it would cost airlines billions of dollars to refund customers. When CBC asked Transport Canada for specific numbers, it was told the figures the government receives from airlines amount to proprietary information that it isn’t authorized to release.

Air Canada’s books are open, since it’s a publicly traded company. It has about $2.6 billion tied up in ticket sales for future travel over the next year.

On March 16, the airline said its current liquidity level was $6.3 billion — a record level — and its balance sheet was solid. Since then, Air Canada has said it’s burning $22 million a day in operating costs and plans to reduce its workforce by 50 to 60 per cent. The company said a dramatic drop in demand during the pandemic caused the airline to slash its flight capacity by 95 per cent. 

Government in talks with airlines and consumers

Outside Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated a message he’s delivered in the past — that the government has to strike the right balance between keeping airlines afloat and preserving consumers’ rights. 

“I hear clearly the concerns that Canadians have around their air tickets,” said Trudeau. “We will continue to work with the industry and with concerned groups of Canadians to ensure that we find a fair way through this. 

“But I know Canadians at the same time want to make sure we continue to have an airline industry after this very difficult pandemic.”

The government is in talks with airlines and is looking to see what other countries have done with travel refunds. It’s expected to deliver an update on the file in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is in talks with airlines and consumers to try and find a fair approach to refunds for cancelled flights. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Air Canada service to resume at London’s (ON) airport in June with 2 Toronto-bound flights daily

News from Global News – link to story

BY MATTHEW TREVITHICK GLOBAL NEWS | Posted May 29, 2020

The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017.
 The entrance and sign to London International Airport on July 19, 2017. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Plane traffic has been few and far between at London’s International Airport amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but come next month that will change.

Airport officials say Air Canada, which hasn’t flown into or out of London, Ont., for the last several weeks, will begin offering two daily flights to Toronto starting June 22.

The impact of the coronavirus on air travel is evident when you consider that pre-pandemic, nine Air Canada flights left London every day for Toronto, in addition to two Ottawa-bound flights and one to Montreal.

“We’ve gone from, I guess, 2,500 passengers a day to some days… yesterday we were at 25 passengers — 10 going out and 15 coming in,” said Mike Seabrook, the airport’s president and CEO.

WestJet has continued to operate passenger service out of the airport, albeit with fewer flights — about four a week — all to Toronto, Seabrook says. The airline is expected to up that number to one a day beginning in July.

Despite the lack of passenger service, the airport hasn’t been entirely quiet thanks to medevac, cargo, and corporate departures, along with occasional general aviation flights — “the person who likes to fly for fun.”

“But it is really eerily slow,” Seabrook said. “So we’re looking forward to society getting back to even close to normal and a return of flying activity.”

A return to normal can’t come soon enough.

Following a year of record-breaking passenger traffic in 2019, airport revenue is expected to be halved in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Seabrook, however, is optimistic.

“There’s still demand here in our marketplace, and we’ll get this thing back when society returns to levels that’ll support travel again.”

Seabrook said the airport has experienced voluntary layoffs due to the pandemic, but has otherwise kept on most of its crew with assistance from the Emergency Wage Subsidy Program.

We’ve kept all our crew working, kind of, in two crews at separate times, keeping separation,” he said. “We’ve managed to keep everybody busy.”

Workers have been using the dearth of traffic over the last several weeks as an opportunity to spruce up the airport, repaving the main parking lot, painting the inside of the terminal, and replacing tarmac on the taxiway.

With borders closed and travel restrictions in effect, the aviation industry, like many others, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with airlines bleeding cash as planes remain grounded and maintenance and airport fees add up.

Two weeks ago, Air Canada announced it would lay off about 20,000 employees after reporting a first-quarter loss of more than $1 billion after slashing its flight capacity by more than 90 per cent.

Last week, the company said it would bolster its summer schedule, which nonetheless remains more than 50 per cent smaller than last year.

WestJet, meanwhile, has cancelled tens of thousands of flights, including all U.S. and international routes, through July 4, and has shed around 9,000 workers, according to a company spokesperson.

Talking to the airlines, obviously, they’re very cautious,” Seabrook said of restarting flights. “If they’re operating their aircraft at empty or near-empty, they’re losing more money than if the aircraft had just parked.”

But they are seeing positive signs in terms of demand,” he noted. “People do have to travel.”

“There’s a segment of society that just travels for fun, but we do have to get around … So there’s pent up demand and we just hope that the faucet gets turned on fairly quickly.”

The International Air Transport Association predicts global revenues will fall by US$314 billion this year, or 55 per cent, from 2019.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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

Aimia to Vigorously Defend Injunction Application Related to Transaction with Kognitiv

From Aimia Inc

TORONTO, May 28, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Aimia Inc. (TSX: AIM) (“Aimia” or the “Company”) announced that it and Kognitiv Corporation (“Kognitiv”) intend to vigorously defend themselves against an application for injunctive relief filed today with the Quebec Superior Court (Civil Division) in the District of Montreal by Air Canada and Aeroplan. 

The application relates to the proposed combination of Aimia’s Loyalty Solutions business, which includes Intelligent Shopper Solutions (ISS) and the Air Miles Middle East program, with a subsidiary of Kognitiv, a Waterloo-based B2B technology company, which was announced on April 29, 2020.  The application alleges that the transaction will result in breaches of certain non-competition and confidentiality provisions entered into by Aimia in connection with the sale of Aeroplan in November 2018.

Aimia denies the allegations and believes the application is entirely without merit and an abuse of process. Aimia and Kognitiv intend to close the transaction during the week of June 8, 2020.

Air Canada Announces Pricing of Offering of Shares and Convertible Senior Notes

From Air Canada

MONTREAL, May 28, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada (TSX: AC) (the “Company”) today announced that it has priced both its previously announced underwritten marketed public offering of 30,800,000 Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company (“Shares”) at a price to the public of C$16.25 per Share (the “Share Offering”), for aggregate gross proceeds of C$500,500,000 and its concurrent marketed private placement of convertible senior unsecured notes due 2025 (“Convertible Notes”) for aggregate gross proceeds of US$650,000,000 (the “Convertible Notes Offering” and together with the Share Offering, the “Offerings”).

The Convertible Notes will bear interest semi-annually in arrears at a rate of 4.000% per annum and will mature on July 1, 2025, unless earlier repurchased, redeemed or converted. The initial conversion rate of the Convertible Notes is 65.1337 Shares per US$1,000 principal amount of Convertible Notes, or an initial conversion price of approximately US$15.35 per Share. The Convertible Notes will be convertible into cash, Class A Variable Voting Shares and/or Class B Voting Shares of the Company or a combination thereof, at the Company’s election.

The Company has granted the underwriters of the Share Offering an option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Shares in the Share Offering, exercisable in whole or in part at any time until 30 days after closing of the Share Offering, and has granted the initial purchasers of the Convertible Notes Offering an option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Convertible Notes in the Convertible Notes Offering, exercisable in whole or in part at any time until 13 days after closing of the Convertible Notes Offering.

The Offerings are expected to close on or about June 2, 2020, subject to customary closing conditions.

The Company will use the net proceeds from the Offerings to supplement the Company’s working capital and other general corporate purposes. The net proceeds from the Offerings will serve to increase Air Canada’s cash position, thereby allowing for additional flexibility both from an operational standpoint and in the implementation of its planned mitigation and recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Shares offered in the Share Offering are being offered by way of a short-form prospectus in all provinces and territories of Canada and may also be offered in the United States to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).

The Convertible Notes offered in the Convertible Notes Offering are being offered on a private placement basis and are not being offered by way of a prospectus in Canada.

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