4 September 2019 by Justin Bachman, Bloomberg News
(Bloomberg) — Air Canada has been hurt more from the grounding of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max than other operators because the aircraft made up a larger portion of its total capacity, the carrier’s finance chief said Wednesday.
The grounding imposed a severe strain on the airline’s schedule, with Air Canada able to “backfill” only about half of the lost Max capacity, Chief Financial Officer Michael Rousseau said at a Cowen & Co. transportation conference.
Unlike most of Boeing’s Max customers, Air Canada has no other 737s in its fleet, leaving its 737 pilots mostly idle this year beyond training, the CFO said. The company won’t resume hiring pilots for the Max until the plane is cleared to resume service, he said.
“We have a couple hundred pilots sitting around not doing a lot,” Rousseau said.
Air Canada had two dozen 737 Max aircraft when regulators grounded the plane in March following two fatal crashes. The airline had planned to receive 12 additional Max aircraft this summer. It plans to acquire a total of 50 Max, which will replace older Airbus SE A320s.
Year-round, non-stop Toronto-Brussels flights complement year-round Montreal-Brussels service
MONTREAL, Sept. 4, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada announced today the introduction of new, year-round services between Toronto and Brussels starting May 1, 2020. Up to five weekly non-stop flights will be operated with Air Canada’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, featuring Signature Class, Premium Economy and Economy services.
“We are pleased to launch new non-stop, year-round flights from Toronto to Brussels, complementing our successful Montreal-Brussels service now celebrating its tenth anniversary. This is a further expansion of Air Canada’s reach to Europe and beyond. This new service will conveniently connect our extensive North American network through our Toronto Pearson global hub directly to Brussels, where our Star Alliance partner Brussels Airlines offers far-reaching connections throughout Europe and Africa,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President of Network Planning at Air Canada.
“As the location of the European Union, NATO and numerous corporate headquarters, Brussels is a major global destination. Our new Torontof lights, together with our Montreal service, offer North American business travellers the most convenient links to this important European city. Air Canada offers a multitude of travel options between North America and Africa via Brussels, firmly demonstrating the strength of our network and partnerships in offering unparalleled customer choices.”
Days of Operation
07:45 +1 day
Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Mon,Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Flights are timed to connect conveniently with Air Canada’s and Brussels Airlines’ respective networks at Toronto and Brussels. Flights also provide for Aeroplan accumulation and redemption, Star Alliance reciprocal benefits, and for eligible customers, priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounge access where available, priority boarding and other benefits. Eligible premium customers in Toronto will also have access to the Air Canada Signature Suite, recognized by Skytrax as offering the world’s best dining experience in a business class lounge.
WestJet Airlines poses a significant competitive threat to Air Canada’s international business, said an analyst Tuesday, which may be the real reason the flag carrier has filed a formal challenge of Onex Corp.’s proposed acquisition of the Calgary-based airline.
AMANDA STEPHENSON, CALGARY HERALD, September 3, 2019
WestJet Airlines poses a significant competitive threat to Air Canada’s international business, an analyst said Tuesday, which may be the real reason the flag carrier has filed a formal challenge of Onex Corp.’s proposed acquisition of the Calgary-based airline.
Toronto-based Onex’s planned $3.5-billion buyout of WestJet has received approval from the carrier’s shareholders and some regulators, but is still being reviewed by the Canadian Transportation Agency.
However, according to an Aug. 15 letter from Air Canada to the regulator, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, the Montreal-based airline is challenging the deal on grounds that it may not meet Canada’s foreign ownership rules. Under law, foreigners cannot own more than 49 per cent equity in a Canadian airline. The rules also restrict a foreign airline and any single foreign owner from controlling more than a quarter of voting interests in a Canadian carrier.
Air Canada suggested the likely presence of Onex co-investors, such as foreign wealth funds and carriers, and the “opaque nature” of the deal to buy WestJet through company subsidiary Kestrel Bidco will make it harder to ensure compliance with ownership laws.
“The uncertainty and flexibility of co-investor participation introduces significant risk that non-Canadian co-investors will have control-in-fact of WestJet following the transaction,” Air Canada said in its letter.
Air Canada declined to comment on the letter, as did WestJet, citing the fact the deal is still under regulatory review.
“Assuming the timely receipt of this approval, the transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019,” WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email.
Robert Kokonis — president and managing partner of independent aviation consultancy AirTrav Inc. — said he has no knowledge of whether there is anything specific about the structure of Onex (which is based in Toronto and owned by billionaire Gerry Schwartz) that could create foreign ownership concerns.
However, Kokonis said Air Canada’s move is proof the airline is significantly concerned about WestJet’s growth ambitions. WestJet has set its sights on long-haul international routes with an order for 10 Boeing 787 jetliners set for delivery before 2022, with an option to buy 10 more.
“Air Canada understands that the Onex deal is bringing a significant amount of financial strength to WestJet, to help support and propel forward the international expansion plans the WestJet management team has already brought forward,” Kokonis said. “If I’m Air Canada looking at that, I’m thinking, ‘wow, WestJet has been a pretty robust competitor domestically and now they’re moving into our turf, which is international.’ ”
The Canadian Transportation Agency said it is aware of the issues raised in Air Canada’s letter.
“The process underway will allow the CTA to determine whether the proposed transaction will result in an undertaking that is Canadian,” the agency said by email.
In a statement, Onex said it is “pleased to have already received approval from the Minister of Transport and the Competition Bureau for the WestJet transaction. Onex is engaged with the CTA on the regulatory approval process of our transaction.”
More delays and cancellations expected as Bahamas slammed and hurricane is off Florida coast
CBC News · Posted: Sep 03, 2019
The massive hurricane hitting the Bahamas and off the Florida coast is throwing travel plans for hundreds of thousands of people into disarray, as Dorian has resulted in the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights in and around its path on Tuesday alone.
Flight-tracking website Flight Aware says 638 flights outbound from Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach airports in Florida have been cancelled, along with almost as many inbound flights to those cities. Those cancellations are on top of flights that were cancelled through the weekend.
Even Canadian airlines are impacted.
Calgary-based WestJet has cancelled its flights to Fort Lauderdale “until it is safe to resume flying” and in the meantime is allowing anyone travelling to parts of Florida or Nassau to rebook without any added fees.
Air Canada, meanwhile, is allowing passengers travelling through Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas to rebook, and is waiving flight change fees for passengers scheduled to fly to various airports in Florida and Georgia.
Bahamian media reported Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport was submerged. The airport in the capital of Nassau, which is further south, was operational.
Hurricane Dorian has walloped the Bahamas, causing widespread damage and at least five deaths. The hurricane, which has weakened to a Category 3, has essentially parked itself over the Caribbean island, worsening the damage there, but most forecasting models projected the storm to move west, as it is currently doing, before curling up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
That would likely cause a cascading effect across the North American travel network, as thousands of flights in new cities so far unaffected are rerouted.
Delta has issued a travel waiver that extends into next week for anyone taking a Delta flight to Georgia, or South and North Carolina. The waiver means passengers will be able to rebook their travel plans without a fee.
Transportation watchdog asked to probe if deal is 51% owned and controlled by Canadians
Bloomberg News, Doug Alexander – September 3, 2019
Air Canada is calling on the country’s transportation regulator to take a closer look at Onex Corp.’s takeover of WestJet Airlines Ltd., arguing that the $3.5 billion deal may run afoul of foreign-ownership rules.
“I am writing to express the concern that, due to the structure of the transaction and the capital and corporate governance structure of Onex, the transaction may result in an undertaking that is not ‘Canadian’ within the meaning” of the Canada Transportation Act, Air Canada’s general counsel David Perez wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to the Canadian Transportation Agency. “Onex’s structure also appears to provide insufficient protections to ensure that WestJet continues to be Canadian in the future.”
Onex, the Toronto-based buyout firm founded and led by Gerry Schwartz, agreed in May to buy Canada’s second-biggest carrier in a cash deal and take the company private. The acquisition was valued at $31 a share, or $5 billion including debt, Toronto-based Onex said at the time. The stock closed Friday at $30.86 in Toronto.
Air Canada’s letter said that WestJet’s purchaser will also have a number of co-investors that may include foreign sovereign wealth funds, foreign airlines and other non-Canadians, and that Onex lacks the necessary internal controls to ensure that Calgary-based WestJet remains Canadian.
Foreign ownership rules under Canada’s transportation act require a company to be 51 per cent owned and controlled by Canadians, with no more than 25 per cent voting interest held by any single non-Canadian.
“We urge the agency to carefully consider whether the transaction will result in an undertaking that is Canadian and to use its powers to investigate and uphold the Act as necessary,” Air Canada said.
Friday, August 30, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group
TORONTO — Transat is waiving change fees for flights to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando and WestJet has extended its rebooking window for four Florida destinations as Hurricane Dorian churns towards Florida, potentially as a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall.
Cruise lines are keeping an eye on Dorian as well, with updates from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and more.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has the Category 2 storm strengthening into a ‘potentially catastrophic’ Category 4 with winds of almost 225 kph, making landfall along the U.S. southeast coast on Tuesday.
While the projected track shows the storm hitting near West Palm Beach, the ‘cone of uncertainty’ of Dorian’s potential path covers nearly all of Florida’s 800-kilometre coastline, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando all within the danger zone.
Yesterday afternoon Transat said its air and cruise operations, as well as cruise operations, are still proceeding on schedule, but the company is monitoring the situation.
Transat passengers with tickets for flights to Fort Lauderdale or Orlando, booked before Aug. 27 and operating Aug. 31 – Sept. 2 inclusive, can take advantage of Transat’s flexible rebooking policy. Passengers on impacted flights can change their date and/or destination for trips completed by Oct. 31.
WestJet has extended its travel window for its flexible rebooking policy, for travel up to Sept. 3 for Nassau as well as Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers and Tampa.
As of 3 p.m. on Aug. 30 Air Canada had not added any Florida destinations to its Travel Alerts list.
The main complaint was that exit signs on aircraft gave less prominence to French than English and only the word “lift” appeared on seatbelt buckles.
PRESSE CANADIENNE Updated: August 29, 2019
The Federal Court of Canada has ordered Air Canada to pay $21,000 in damages to two francophones for repeated violations of their language rights.
Michel and Lynda Thibodeau filed 22 complaints in 2016 with the Official Languages Commissioner, alleging the carrier violated the Official Languages Act.
Their main complaint was that exit signs on aircraft gave less prominence to French than English and only the word “lift” appeared on the buckles of seatbelts on the aircraft. They also complained that a boarding announcement to passengers in Fredericton airport was less complete in French than in English.
The two plaintiffs argued that Air Canada systematically violates the linguistic rights of francophones.
Air Canada argued that the complaints were based on too rigorous an interpretation of the law, which does not call for identical treatment of both official languages but that they receive treatment that is substantially the same.
The court, however, did not agree, ruling this week that unilingual or predominantly English signage and the boarding announcement made largely in English violated the law and that the Thibodeaus’ rights had been violated.
The court ordered Air Canada to send the plaintiffs formal letters of apology and pay damages and interest of up to $1,500 for each complaint. Damages for eight of those complaints had already been settled prior to the hearing and were not included in the judgment.
The court refused to issue a mandatory order — sought by the plaintiffs — that would oblige Air Canada to conform to its linguistic responsibilities because of the widespread prominence of English on aircraft signage and the carrier’s apparent unwillingness to correct the situation.
“There is no reason to believe that Air Canada deliberately violated the (Official Languages) Act, and such an order would impose on it the constant threat of contempt of court proceedings,” the court wrote.
Air Canada told the court that if it came to the conclusion the signage did not conform to the law, the air carrier was prepared, within six months after a final judgement, to file a plan that would see them replaced. The court acknowledged the offer.
MONTREAL, Aug. 29, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Transat A.T. Inc. (“Transat”) today announced that the Superior Court of Quebechas issued a final order approving the previously announced plan of arrangement with Air Canada (the “Arrangement”). The Arrangement was also approved by 94.77% of shareholders present in person or by proxy at the special meeting of Transat held on August 23, 2019.
The Arrangement is still subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals described in Transat’s management information circular dated July 19, 2019, as well as other customary closing conditions. In addition, a public interest assessment regarding the Arrangement is being undertaken by Transport Canada with input from the Commissioner of Competition. If the required regulatory approvals are obtained and conditions are met, it is now expected that the transaction will be completed by the second quarter 2020.
Throw into this mix what Air Canada will be able to accomplish as it adds the Air Transat fleet.
Air Canada has described the A220 as disruptive to their network as the 787 has been. With each new A220 delivered, US air travelers will have another option across the Atlantic. US carriers are likely to have a less compelling reaction, as the Canadian market is so much smaller.
The Montreal-Toulouse move has Airbus and its supply chain written all over. And, crucially, Air Canada made this move before Air France. The use of the A330 may be a tad large, but the service won’t be daily. However, this where the Air Transat fleet comes in handy. Air Canada can move an A321LR into this market for daily service. With Airbus related traffic probably filling the front cabin, the economics look promising. As traffic grows, the A330 for daily service becomes possible. The A330 obviously offering better cargo capacity. Being first to market means Air France has to catch up – a decision to unlock the behind Paris market to direct international service to Canada may not go down well on a “Paris-centric” network. Air France’s best response might be Toulouse-Washington to play a similar Airbus card. But Air France does not necessarily have the optimal tool for the route, yet. But like Air Canada selecting the A330 and not going daily provides a reasonable model to copy.
What we are seeing is the next step in the devolution of fortress hubs being used as staging places to disrupt international and overseas markets. Air Canada is moving quickly because first to market is a key step. Air Canada can disrupt Air France to Francophone Quebec. The A220 service from Seattle an San Jose to Montreal is also an aerospace play, connecting the #1 and #3 aeroclusters. San Jose to Toronto offers great onward connections to Europe for the tech industry.
Business yields drive route profitability, and Air Canada has chosen interesting business-centric markets for its latest routes that can siphon traffic from other hubs and should become successful.