Air Canada’s Latest Options Offer Customers Safe and Seamless Holiday Travel to the U.S., Making it Easy to Comply with Updated Government Requirements

  • Switch Health Rapid Antigen Test Kits can be delivered in Canada and taken from the comfort of your home or accommodation, one day prior to departure, test results in 15 minutes
  • Revamped Air Canada Travel Ready Hub provides travellers with easy-to-understand COVID-19 travel requirements and answers to FAQ’
  • Full vaccination required for air travel with proof of vaccination integrated into Air Canada app check-in experience

MONTREAL, Dec. 6, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada announces a series of improvements for customers to meet new U.S. government entry requirements. In partnership with Switch Health, a Canadian-based health care company, Air Canada confirms ample supply of antigen test kits available for purchase. The self-administered antigen test will allow customers to conveniently meet new U.S. government entry requirements that travellers present a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than one day prior to departure. The test result takes about 15 minutes to complete.

The self-administered test can be taken from the comfort of the customer’s home or accommodation, within one day prior to departure. The test is conducted under the remote supervision of a telehealth professional from Switch Health and includes an electronic report suitable for travel. Customers can order the Switch Health Rapid Antigen Test Kit (which includes two tests) at switchhealth.ca/aeroplan or redeem at aircanada.com/estore.

“With government restrictions evolving around the world, we want to simplify the experience and provide customers with easy and effective testing solutions,” said Mark Nasr, Senior Vice President, Products Marketing & eCommerce at Air Canada. “We’re also sending new, customized e-mails within five days of departure, detailing the travel, entry and testing requirements specific to any itinerary, for travel everywhere throughout the globe.”

For a seamless check-in experience, the Air Canada app and aircanada.com have been upgraded to recognize the Switch Health QR code and proof of vaccination status, enabling customers to securely submit their test results and proof of vaccination in advance of travel. This meets the Government of Canada requirement that all air travellers be fully vaccinated and offers customers another contactless experience.

Supported by a continually improving Travel Ready Hub, customers can easily and conveniently obtain such information as necessary travel documentation, COVID-19 test requirements and country travel restrictions for any global destination.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Ready for Takeoff: Air Canada and Chase Officially Launch New U.S. Chase Aeroplan® Credit Card

  • Launch offer for new Chase Aeroplan cardmembers includes two Welcome Flight Reward Certificates worth up to 100,000 points and Aeroplan 25K Elite status
  • Accelerated earning with 3x points on dining including eligible delivery services, grocery stores and purchases made directly with Air Canada, plus 500 points for every $2,000 spent
  • Cardmember benefits include free checked bags, unlimited carbon offsets for Aeroplan flight redemptions on Air Canada, faster Aeroplan Elite status qualification and more

WILMINGTON, Del. and MONTREAL, Dec. 2, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Today Chase, the largest co-brand card issuer, and Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline and a Star Alliance founding member, launched the new Chase Aeroplan® World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card, with Mastercard as the exclusive payments network. Providing U.S. cardmembers the ability to earn Aeroplan points to unlock faster and better access to the world, Aeroplan is the industry’s most globally connected program with more than 45 partner airlines flying to hundreds of destinations across the globe.

 The new Chase Aeroplan Card, a World Elite Mastercard, offers cardmembers:

  • Opportunities to earn Aeroplan points on everyday categories:
    • 3X points for every dollar spent on dining, takeout, and eligible delivery services
    • 3X points for every dollar spent at grocery stores
    • 3X points for each dollar spent directly with Air Canada
    • 1 point for each dollar spent on all other purchases
    • Plus, 500 bonus points for every $2,000 spent in a calendar month (up to a maximum of 1,500 points per calendar month)
  • Carbon offsets: Aeroplan will purchase carbon offsets to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions associated with cardmember travel when they fly Air Canada using an Aeroplan flight reward. Applies to Chase Aeroplan primary cardmembers and travel companions on the same reservation for flight segments with Air Canada, Air Canada Express and Air Canada Rouge.
  • Unprecedented access to Aeroplan travel benefits:
    • Free first checked bags on Air Canada flights: one free checked bag for the primary cardmember and up to eight other travelers on the same itinerary
    • Automatically receive Aeroplan 25K Elite Status for the remainder of the first calendar year, plus the following calendar year, allowing primary cardmembers to enjoy benefits such as priority check-in, early boarding, upgrades and more on Air Canada flights. Cardmembers can requalify as follows:
      • Earn 25K Status through the next year after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
      • Existing status holders earn a one-level status boost to 35K Status or higher for the next year after spending $50,000 in a calendar year
      • Additional spend thresholds starting at $100,000 of spend in a calendar year will unlock unprecedented Aeroplan redemption benefits, including 50% off Priority Rewards and companion benefits
    • $100 credit toward Global Entry, TSA Precheck or NEXUS every four years (as reimbursement for the application fee charged to the card)
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Protection benefits, including
      • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
      • Baggage Delay Insurance
      • Trip Delay Reimbursement
      • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
      • Roadside Assistance
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, including
    • Complimentary 24/7 concierge service
    • Access to Mastercard Priceless® Experiences
    • Exclusive offers from popular brands for services like ride-sharing, food delivery and online shopping
  • Pay Yourself Back® Benefits Coming Soon: Chase Aeroplan Cardmembers will be able to apply their Aeroplan points toward travel purchases on any airline, including hotel, car rental, and more at a rate of USD 1.25 cents per point up to 50,000 points per year (US$625 of value)

Additionally, for a limited time new Aeroplan Credit Card cardmembers will receive two Welcome Flight Reward Certificates valid for up to 50,000 points each (up to 100,000 total points) after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. Visit ChaseAeroplanCard.com for full details.

“We set out to create something special for our U.S. based Aeroplan members—a card that offers immediate benefits after signing-up, and more value the more it’s used for purchases” said Scott O’Leary, Vice President, Aeroplan at Air Canada. “The Chase Aeroplan Card, when paired with the newly transformed Aeroplan and our growing list of 45 airline partners, gives our U.S. members everything they need to travel more and travel better.”

“We designed the new Aeroplan Credit Card to provide cardmembers with incredible opportunities to earn points on everyday purchases that they can use toward travel all across the world,” said Greg Stranz, General Manager of Air Canada Co-Brand Cards at Chase. “We are excited about the rich value the Aeroplan program and new card offers as more Americans return to travel and plan for future international trips.”

In August 2021, Aeroplan became a Chase Ultimate Rewards point transfer partner.

The Chase Aeroplan Card is now available and has an annual fee of $95 U.S. For more information about the new Aeroplan Credit Card, visit ChaseAeroplanCard.com.

About Chase 
Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading financial services firm based in the United States with assets of $3.8 trillion and operations worldwide. Chase serves more than 60 million American households with a broad range of financial services, including personal banking, credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, investment advice, small business loans and payment processing. Customers can choose how and where they want to bank: More than 4,700 branches in 48 states and the District of Columbia, 16,000 ATMs, mobile, online and by phone. For more information, go to chase.com.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Air Canada Named Best Airline in North America for Third Straight Year by Global Traveler

  • Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the third straight year
  • Global Traveler’s Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness for the second straight year
  • APEX Five-Star rating reflects performance based on passenger feedback
  • Business Traveler Magazine’s Best North American Airline for International Travel
  • Air Canada also sweeps StudentUniverse’s six Canadian travel awards voted in annual airline survey

MONTREAL, Dec. 1, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada has been named the Best Airline in North America for the third straight year by the readers of Global Traveler. The airline also won for Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness for the second consecutive year in the 18th edition of the GT Tested Reader Survey of the magazine’s readership of frequent business and luxury travelers.

Additionally, in its annual ratings for 2022, APEX has reaffirmed Air Canada as a Five-Star Global Airline in the APEX Official Airline Ratings, based on customer feedbackFor the 2022 awards, nearly one million flights were evaluated by passengers across more than 600 airlines from around the world using a five-star scale. The APEX Official Airline Ratings were created based on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights gathered through APEX’s partnership with TripIt from Concur and independently certified by an external auditing company.

“Thank you to our passionate employees who’ve worked tirelessly as we welcome our customers back. Without these dedicated employees and our loyal customers, being recognized with Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America and Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness, as well as APEX’s five-star rating and Business Traveler’s Best North American Airline for International Travel wouldn’t be possible,” said Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer at Air Canada.

“The award-winning corporate culture we have built and cultivated over the past decade, rooted in resilience, teamwork, and empathy, is a key strength. It is our culture that allowed us to pivot quickly, while keeping customers at the centre of everything we did as we responded early in the pandemic, and this continues. Our positive culture, combined with the appeal of Air Canada’s iconic brand, is enabling us to reinvent ourselves to seize the many opportunities in the post-COVID marketplace.”

Business Traveler Magazine also recently named Air Canada the Best North American Airline for International Travel as voted by its readership and the airline took home gold in all six Canadian categories of StudentUniverse’s annual student airline survey:

  • Best for international travel (Canada)
  • Best for travel within Canada (Canada)
  • Best value for students and youth in 2021 (Canada)
  • Best service for students and youth in 2021 (Canada)
  • Safest during COVID-19 (Canada)
  • Overall best airline for students and youth in 2021 (Canada)

These honours are the latest in a number of awards affirming Air Canada’s accomplishments in key aspects of its business including people, product and employee engagement. Earlier this year, Air Canada was recognized by the FXExpress Publications, Inc’s family of brands, which named Air Canada as a winner of six additional awards:

Leisure Lifestyle Awards

  • Best Airline for Onboard Entertainment for the third consecutive year
  • Best Premium Economy Class for the third consecutive year
  • Best Airline for Onboard Menu for the third consecutive year

The Trazees: Aimed at travellers aged 25–40

  • Favorite Airline in North America for the third consecutive year

Wherever Awards: Aimed at the modern travelling family

  • Best Family-Friendly Airline in North America for the third consecutive year
  • Best Family Friendly International Airline for the second consecutive year

Other major awards and recognitions recently received by Air Canada include:

  • The Skytrax World Airline Awards are the latest recognitions Air Canada has received for its products and customer service, and the airline remains the only Skytrax Four-star international network carrier in North America:
    • Skytrax Best Airline Staff in North America
    • Skytrax Best Airline Staff in Canada
    • Skytrax Best Business Class Lounge in North America
    • Skytrax COVID-19 Airline Excellence
  • Air Canada was selected among the top companies within the 2021 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces® Awards, which celebrates the top 50 employers that make engagement, alignment and recognition central to the employee experience. This latest award followed the airline being recently named as one of the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces for the fifth consecutive year for its commitment to employee engagement.
  • Recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2021 by Mediacorp for its partnerships to create inclusive workplaces for employees from five diverse groups: women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ2) people.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2021, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the third straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.

Giving Tuesday: Help Children Get Essential Medical Care By Donating Aeroplan Points

  • Aeroplan Points Matching Week for the Air Canada Foundation runs until December 5
  • Donations help provide sick children with access to specialized healthcare across Canada

“It really means the world to have your support system around you, for Israfil to be at home and have his own bed and have his own room, to be able to see his family between treatments,” said Jessica, Israfil’s mother.

MONTREAL, Nov. 30, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Your donations will go a long way in helping Jessica and her son Israfil, a two-year old boy who suffers from a rare type of cancer, and many other kids across Canada, to fly for medical appointments. This is what the Air Canada Foundation Aeroplan Points Matching Week is all about: helping children reach medical care.

“Your generosity, year after year, truly makes a difference in the lives of children and their families. With your precious contribution we’ve been able, over the last 18 months, to fly Israfil and his mother Jessica from Saskatoon to BC Children’s Hospital for his medical treatments,” said Valérie Durand, spokesperson for the Air Canada Foundation. “We are grateful to Aeroplan Members for their donations, which relieve a burden and ultimately allow parents to focus on their children during difficult times.”

Until December 5, members who donate Aeroplan points to the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program will double the impact of their contribution as the value of the points donated will be matched, up to 500,000 points, by Aeroplan. Through the generosity of Aeroplan Members, the Air Canada Foundation donates millions of Aeroplan points to 15 pediatric hospitals across Canada every year to help children reach the medical care they need away from home.

“We are so grateful to the Air Canada Foundation for providing the Hospital Transportation Program for all Canadian Children’s Hospitals through our partnership with Children’s Miracle Network. This program ensures that medically complex kids, like Israfil, have the support and access to the care they need, when they need it.” agreed Allison Hepworth, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and Tanner Braaten, Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. 

“This program has been getting us to Israfil’s life-saving treatments since he was a year old. We couldn’t have done it without it. I can’t imagine if we would’ve had to drive 26 hours every time. You never think about the financial impact of childhood cancer,” said Jessica, who expressed her deep gratitude to Aeroplan donors on behalf of her son Israfil.

Since the introduction of the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program in 2003, sick children, accompanied by a parent, have been able to obtain the medical care needed away from home. Driving long hours can be strenuous for both the child and the parent, especially when several visits to the hospital are required each month or when treatments last several months. Travelling by air helps families avoid tiring hours on the road and alleviates some of the financial burden of travel expenses, which can cause serious economic and emotional hardship to families. For more information on the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program and its impact, visit www.aircanada.com/foundation.

About the Air Canada Foundation
The Air Canada Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on the health and well-being of children and youth, was launched in 2012. It offers both financial and in-kind support to Canadian registered charities. Core programs include the Hospital Transportation Program, which redistributes Aeroplan points to 15 pediatric hospitals across Canada, enabling sick children to access the medical care they need away from home. The Air Canada Foundation, in collaboration with the airline, also engages directly in fundraising activities, such as the Every Bit Counts program, which encourages Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge customers to donate loose change of all denominations on board flights or through collection containers available in Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges. The Foundation also offers continued support to major health-related causes that benefit Canadians and is an active participant in international humanitarian relief activity as the need arises. For more information about the Air Canada Foundation, please visit www.aircanada.com/foundation or in Air Canada’s 2020 Corporate Sustainability report available at www.aircanada.com/citizensoftheworld.

About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Air Canada to pay US$4.5 million in settlement with U.S. Department of Transportation

From CTV News – link to source story

Alexandra Mae Jones, CTVNews.ca writer | Monday, November 22, 2021

Air CanadaGrounded Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) will settle with Air Canada for US$4.5 million after filing an action against the airline for its extreme delay in providing refunds for flights to and from the United States that were cancelled or adjusted early in the pandemic.

The settlement is the highest amount that OACP has received from a single airline, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Part of the settlement is a US$2 million fine to be paid directly to the U.S. Treasury.

The complaint against Air Canada was first filed in June, and OACP was at first seeking a penalty of US$25 million. At the time of filing the action, OACP said it had received more than 6,000 complaints against Air Canada since March 2020 from consumers who had their flights changed at short notice and were denied a refund.

At the start of the pandemic, as travel restrictions changed in different countries, airlines all over the globe abruptly cancelled or changed flights in an attempt to abide by restrictions or in an attempt to deal with low ticket sales.

U.S. law states that airlines must provide refunds upon request if they significantly change a flight, and that refunds must be delivered within seven days of the request if the customer paid with credit, and 20 days if they paid with cash.

In total, the OACP stated that Air Canada had committed at least 5,100 violations, and that passengers were stuck waiting “anywhere from 5 months to 13 months to receive refunds.”

The original filing action also stated that Air Canada failed to make a good faith effort to process refunds when OACP announced that they were giving airlines more time to deal with the high volume of refund requests.

Air Canada initially stated it would be fighting the proceedings in June, saying the agency had not conducted a “well-reason analysis” of the regulations.

In the release announcing the agreement to settle, OACP stated that US$2.5 million will go towards refunding passengers who purchased a non-refundable ticket for a flight to or from the United States.

“Airlines and other sellers of airline tickets have a legal obligation to refund consumers if the airline cancels or significantly changes a consumer’s flight,” the release stated.

“OACP believes that this settlement is in the public interest, and that it serves to deter Air Canada and other carriers from committing similar violations in the future.”

With files from the Canadian Press 

Air Canada Adding Extra Cargo Capacity Into Vancouver to Help Maintain British Columbia’s Economic Supply Chain

  • In response to flooding that disrupted transportation supply chain network in the province
  • 586 tonnes of additional capacity added into and out of YVR, an increase of 45% over originally planned levels
  • Air Canada Express Dash 8-400 aircraft being converted into special freighter configuration to transport cargo

MONTREAL, Nov. 22, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada announced today that it has significantly increased cargo capacity into and out of Vancouver between November 21 and 30 from its hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary as it works to ensure that the vital economic supply chain links in British Columbia are maintained following the impacts of last week’s flooding. In total, Air Canada is adding 586 tonnes of cargo capacity, representing 3,223 cubic metres to support B.C.’s economic supply chain and the needs of its communities. The additional capacity is equivalent in weight to approximately 860 adult moose.

“The economic supply chain is vital, and to help support the urgent transport of goods into and out of British Columbia, we have increased capacity to our YVR hub by using the flexibility of Air Canada’s fleet to reschedule 28 passenger flights from narrow-body aircraft to be operated with wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 777, and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. These changes will allow an additional 282 tonnes of goods to be moved across the country on our scheduled passenger flights,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo, at Air Canada.

“Additionally, Air Canada Cargo will operate an additional 13 all-cargo flights between our Toronto, Montreal and Calgary cargo hubs and YVR using widebody aircraft, providing approximately 304 tonnes of additional capacity. These aircraft will help move mail and perishables such as seafood, as well as automotive parts and other industrial goods,” concluded Mr. Berry.

Air Canada is also working with its regional partner Jazz Aviation to provide additional regional cargo capacity by temporarily converting an Air Canada Express De Havilland Dash 8-400 from its normal passenger configuration into a special freighter configuration. This Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter operated by Jazz can carry a total of 18,000 lbs. (8,165 kg) of cargo and will be deployed to transport critical goods, as well as consumer and industrial goods and will be in service as early as this week.

Last week, as the impact of the devastating floods became apparent, Air Canada quickly added capacity to the Air Canada Cargo network by substituting larger widebody aircraft on 14 passenger flights into Vancouver.

Additional capacity added for passengers

In addition to the extra cargo capacity, Air Canada had also increased the number of seats available for customers in Kelowna and Kamloops since November 17, adding approximately 1,500 seats into both communities by utilizing larger aircraft on routes. This enabled people affected by the highway closures to fly into and out from these airports, and through the cargo capacity of these passenger aircraft, also allowed for the important transport of emergency medical supplies into these regions.

Air Canada continues to monitor the situation in British Columbia very closely and will adjust its passenger and cargo schedule accordingly.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Price wars, budget options coming to airline market amid COVID recovery

From The Toronto Star – link to source story

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press | 19 November 2021

MONTREAL – Canada has so far been a difficult place for budget airlines to thrive, but that appears to be changing, thanks mainly to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian market, long defined by two dominant incumbents and consumer reluctance to embrace the ultra-low-cost model, is now poised to enter a period of price wars and suppressed fares as the pandemic upends the aviation sector.

“The pandemic has clearly changed the game for everyone,” Stephen Jones, CEO of discount carrier Flair Airlines, said in an interview.

“The emergence of ultra-low-cost carriers and competition can only be good for consumers. It’s driving efficiency into what was a relatively inefficient industry and lowering prices, I think permanently.”

While the pandemic saw billions of dollars in revenue go up in smoke over the past 20 months, it also burned down barriers to entry for upstarts.

Plummeting demand for aircraft meant carriers could access them more quickly and cheaply. A pilot shortage that had plagued the industry is no longer as severe. And greater availability of airport slots has given companies leverage when striking deals with airport authorities.

“All the competitors are relatively stretched — their balance sheets are stressed, their fleets are contracting. And so the conditions for expansion for a ULCC [ultralow cost carrier]are fantastic right now,” Jones said.

ULCCs, which offer bare-bones discount fares and charge extra for services such as checked bags and cancellations, have expanded their global market share, largely outside of Canada, to more than 37 per cent from about one-quarter a few years earlier, according to Jones..

Several carriers have been beefing up over the past six monthsin preparation for a clash with Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd. — and with each other — particularly for domestic flights and to sun destinations.

Flair was down to one aircraft in April. It now has a dozen planes, with four more coming next year as the Edmonton-based airline adds routes from Victoria to St. John’s, N.L.

Lynx (formerly Enerjet) announced this week it will launch commercial routes next year with three new Boeing 737 Max airliners, part of an eventual fleet of up to 46 within seven years.

Meanwhile, WestJet budget subsidiary Swoop continues to expand, unveiling nine new routes out of Edmonton this week.

Demand remains the big caveat, though airlines say they are confident it will continue to rise next year, particularly among recreational travellers. Business travel — which can yield fatter profit margins and make up for seasonal lulls — continues to lag, a problem that hits bigger airlines harder than discount carriers, which offer no business-class tickets and fewer international flights to commercial hubs.

“Canadians are finally embracing the ULCC model,” said Robert Kokonis, president of consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

“You’d go to chat boards online and people were grumbling about having to pay extra to check in a bag or even to pay money for a carry-on bag. But Canadians are starting to realize that, hey, if I can pay a really rock-bottom airfare, I’ve got money left over to spend at the destination.”

Porter Airlines, while not a ULCC, is another smaller player that is expanding its fleet, securing 30 Embraer E2 narrow-body jets for delivery between mid-2022 and the end of 2023, with an option for 50 more.

Bound for sun destinations and Canadian cities, they will fly from Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax as well as Toronto’s Pearson airport — rather than Porter’s current downtown base at Billy Bishop airport — allowing for head-to-head competition with Air Canada, WestJet, Transat AT Inc. and Sunwing Airlines.

“Air Canada and WestJet won’t take the new incursion by Porter lying down. They’re going to come out and be robust competitors,” Kokonis said, adding that prices will fall “for sure” compared to pre-pandemic fares.

“As the ULCCs gain traction in the deeper sun destinations — places like the Caribbean and Mexico — I think it’s going to pose a significant competitive issue for both Sunwing and Transat. Both of those players are heavily oriented around package vacations.”

However, history has shown that success in this market is far from guaranteed. Between 1995 and 2015, no fewer than six low-cost carriers tried and failed to get off the ground: Greyhound Air, Roots Air, Air Canada’s Zip, Jetsgo, Zoom Airlines and Canjet.

“Before, some of the new entrants that came in were not terribly well-financed or well-backed,” said David Huttner, a commercial aviation expert who has worked with Flair.

“You have three Alberta-headquartered parties in there now” — Flair, Lynx and WestJet’s Swoop — “who are extremely well-structured.”

Flair remains undeterred, with flights to nine U.S. airports so far — mainly U.S. sun destinations — as well as Cancun and Cabo in Mexico.

“They could become the price leader in the Canadian marketplace,” said aviation expert and McGill University lecturer John Gradek.

“You are now talking about a carrier that has risen like a phoenix from the ashes.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.

Air Canada Exits Government of Canada Financial Support as Industry Recovery Continues

MONTREAL, Nov. 19, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada today announced that due to its improved liquidity position and ongoing recovery from the pandemic it is withdrawing from further Government of Canada financial support. The support package, announced in April 2021, provided the carrier access to interest bearing loans of $5.375 billion through several separate credit facilities. To date, Air Canada has only accessed the facility solely dedicated to refunding customers’ non-refundable tickets, while all other remaining facilities totaling $3.975 billion have not been used.

“Air Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 continues. We are recalling employees, adding new routes and frequencies to our network, and restoring services, and, last quarter, we completed a $7.1-billion financing. Today, in another convincing sign of our progress, we are announcing our withdrawal from the major funding provisions of our support agreement with the Government of Canada for the $3.975 billion in facilities that were never accessed and remain unused,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“We deeply appreciate the Government of Canada’s support as this helped maintain a level playing field at a time when governments around the world, recognizing the importance of air travel to their economies, were also assisting their national carriers in the face of the unprecedented downturn caused by COVID-19. In addition to helping preserve thousands of jobs and travel choice for Canadians, the assistance offered to Air Canada importantly served as an extra level of insurance that enabled us to raise additional liquidity on our own to manage the pandemic and give us sufficient resources to effectively compete in the post-pandemic marketplace.”

Background

Air Canada’s support agreement with the government, under the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility, provided access to up to $5.375 billion in interest bearing loans and $500 million in equity for a total of $5.875 billion in liquidity. It consisted of several elements, including:

  • A $1.5 billion secured revolving facility and three separate $825 million unsecured revolving credit facilities. None of the $3.975 billion available under these facilities was ever drawn and, under the terms of its agreement with the government, Air Canada was entitled to terminate them at any time without penalty and has done so.
  • A $1.4 billion unsecured facility solely dedicated to refunding customers’ non-refundable tickets. Approximately 58 per cent of eligible customers requested refunds, including those not covered by the government facility, with the balance voluntarily retaining future flight credits with the carrier. To date, Air Canada has accessed about $1.2 billion of the facility with the money going directly to customers. The money used for refunding the non-refundable tickets will be repaid as per the terms of the agreement with interest paid quarterly by Air Canada.
  • The government purchased $500 million worth of Air Canada common shares at $23.18 per share, representing about 6 per cent of the current public float, which it continues to hold.
  • Air Canada also issued to the government about 14.6 million 10-year warrants for the purchase of an equal number of Air Canada shares, at a price of approximately $27.27 per share. With the termination of the operating credit facilities, half of these warrants, which have not yet vested with the government, have been cancelled immediately. Subject to TSX approval, Air Canada intends to call the balance of the vested warrants for cancellation as per their terms at fair market value.

In the third quarter of 2021, Air Canada completed a series of financing transactions generating gross proceeds of about $7.1 billion. These financing transactions provided substantial liquidity to Air Canada and extended debt maturities out until near the end of the decade. With the release of its third quarter results on November 2, 2021, Air Canada reported that as of September 30, 2021, its unrestricted liquidity was approximately $14.4 billion and consisted of roughly $9.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments, and about $4.9 billion in available undrawn credit facilities, including the $3.975 billion in unused government facilities being cancelled with today’s announcement.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. 

Cheers to earning Aeroplan points at the LCBO

  • Multi-year partnership between Air Canada’s Aeroplan and LCBO launches today
  • Aeroplan members earn points on purchases at LCBO retail stores
  • Earn bonus points for becoming an Aeroplan member and for in-store purchases of $50 or more through November 28, 2021

MONTREAL, Nov. 16, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Aeroplan, Canada’s leading travel loyalty program, and the LCBO, one of the world’s largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol, are pleased to announce that Aeroplan members can now earn points when shopping at LCBO retail stores across Ontario.

Starting today, Aeroplan members will earn one Aeroplan point for every $4 spent at LCBO retail stores, in addition to bonus points on promotional offers. To earn Aeroplan points in LCBO retail stores, simply present a physical or digital Aeroplan membership card at checkout. 

Aeroplan points can be redeemed in the Aeroplan eStore for travel to more than 1,300 destinations across the globe, as well as for hotels, car rentals, and merchandise, and LCBO Gift Cards, which will soon be available starting at just 1,000 Aeroplan points for a $10 LCBO Gift Card. 

“This is an exciting day for our members in Ontario,” said Scott O’Leary, Vice President, Aeroplan at Air Canada. “Together with the LCBO, we can’t wait to deliver on a new world of possibilities for our members.”

“We’re delighted to launch Aeroplan as a way to provide rewarding and personalized offerings to our customers and suppliers,” said Vanda Provato, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, LCBO. “This launch is particularly timely given that we are in the holiday season and many customers are looking for the perfect choice to make moments great.”

In celebration of the launch, join Aeroplan by November 28, 2021, and earn 250 bonus points on your first LCBO retail store purchase. If you are a new or existing member, spend $50 or more at a LCBO retail store by November 28, 2021, and earn double the points. If you are not yet an Aeroplan member, joining is easy at aircanada.com/join.

Currently, Aeroplan members can only earn Aeroplan points for purchases made in LCBO retail stores. In the future, Aeroplan members will have the ability to earn Aeroplan points for online or in-app purchases.

For more information about this partnership, and our launch offers, please visit: www.aircanada.com/lcbo.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and, in 2019, was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050. For more information, please visit: aircanada.com/media, follow Air Canada on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join Air Canada on Facebook.

About the LCBO

Established in 1927, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is an Ontario government enterprise responsible for the retail and wholesale of wine, beer, and spirits. It operates more than 675 retail stores across the province, and works with 450 grocery partners, licensees, and more than 400 LCBO Convenience Outlets to deliver products to Ontarians. As one of the world’s largest buyers and retailers of beverage alcohol, the LCBO offers more than 28,000 products annually from more than 80 countries, making it easy to find the perfect choice to make moments great. All net income from LCBO sales goes to the Government of Ontario in the form of an annual dividend. In fiscal 2019-2020, the LCBO delivered a $2.38 billion dividend to the Ontario Government to support critical services like healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Through its Spirit of Sustainability social impact platform, the LCBO raised over $13.6 million to support the province’s social and environmental needs, creating a more sustainable Ontario for employees, customers, and partners. To learn more about the LCBO, visit LCBO.com.

Air Canada: uneventful and reliable on Seattle-Vancouver-London

From Runaway Girl Network – link to source story

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | 14 November 2021

While big chunks of the outside world opened to vaccinated Americans months ago, I stayed put as friends resumed their international jet set lifestyles of the pre-pandemic days. It would have remained that way for a bit longer had a work trip not taken me to the sunny, hot splendor of Dubai in November.

With my desired status on Alaska Airlines already locked in for the year, I felt blissfully free to choose whatever airline I so desired from my home base of Seattle. It was a rare opportunity to mix things up and try something new and different. In this particular case, a quick search on Google Flights led to a clear favorite: Air Canada.

The airline led on price by a mile, had several fun plane types for the AvGeek-minded traveler, and codeshare legs with Emirates and Lufthansa – neither of which I’d flown on before. (We’ll cover the Emirates outbound leg — London-Dubai — in a subsequent review.)

What Air Canada didn’t lead on was total itinerary time, at over 24 hours door to door. But it was worth the savings of hundreds of dollars roundtrip. I quickly moved to book with economy outbound and treat myself to business on the return.

My travel dates changed just after the 24-hour mark, requiring new outbound flights. Fortunately, Air Canada is not currently charging change fees, only differences in fare. It ended up only setting me back US$150 — far less than I expected — and gave me a faster itinerary to boot. The feature was very easy to find and use on the website.

With a negative COVID-19 test, UK entry form, passport, and luggage in hand I arrived at SeaTac to nab the first of three flights — a short-hop to Vancouver. Check-in was a mess, taking almost an hour. Gate agents appeared to be confused about requirements for final destinations, and in the absence of knowledge simply applied the most restrictive to everyone.

Tempers ran high as the line moved slowly. After apparently first waiting in the wrong line (they were not marked) and directed to the back of another, I got a bag checked and a ticket printed. Security was no concern, and I made my way to the remote gate for the first of three flights.

Though I didn’t pay for a seat assignment, I lucked out and was placed in a window seat anyways. Branding aside, the Q400 turboprop plying this route is just like any other Q400 I’ve been on: modest pitch, tight 17” seat width, barely any room for bags overhead.

Interior of the Q400 with 2-2 seating, and small overhead bins

There was a short beverage service with water and juice, and then we were on the ground in Vancouver.

Air Canada Bombardier Q400 at the gate.

Connecting in Vancouver was straightforward: get off the plane, clear a transit area, and head off to the next gate. Thankfully I did not have to collect my checked bag. It took less than five minutes.

With no fancy lounge access outbound, I whiled away what little time remained by getting some steps in before the long flight ahead to London Heathrow.

Boarding began on time, though document checks — the very same that held up check-in in Seattle — forced a short delay.

Air Canada operates the Vancouver-London service with its Boeing 787-9 twinjet. This was the first time I had been on a widebody in two years. I missed it.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9 at the gate.

That is until I settled into seat 35A, midway up the second of two economy cabins. Squirreling my backpack under the seat ahead of me, it became very clear it was going to be a tight squeeze. Air Canada has a reputation for packing people in, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. But nevertheless the very snug 17” width in a 3-3-3 configuration quickly made me wish I’d bid up for a premium economy seat.

Interior of the Air Canada Boeing 787-9 with IFE screens, and a seat with the author's possessions in view

The small space wasn’t the only drawback. Padding was light and not particularly comfortable. My back was unhappy after only a few minutes.

The seat did come with a generous amount of recline, a welcome surprise. But it is a double edged sword, as it also means the person in front of you can take up a material amount of living space. The TV screen doesn’t pivot when that happens either, making it hard to see.

Seat triple onboard the Air Canada Boeing 787-9

Last on my list of hard product critiques, economy does come with international power outlets, but irritatingly there’s only two outlets per row plus a USB port in the IFE system. All worked, but had trouble holding onto chargers: mine constantly slipped out.

All of my early concerns, though, evaporated just before departure as it became clear that I would get extremely lucky and have the row to myself. I’m glad I didn’t need to find out how much my back could take all squeezed in.

Needless to say, the empty seat triple made for a rather pleasant experience, especially when it came time to get some shuteye.

On the plus side, Air Canada’s Panasonic Avionics eX3-powered inflight entertainment system was a big winner. It had a huge selection of movies and TV, and the map feature was endlessly entertaining.

The 8.5” touchscreen is sufficiently large, though undersized compared with many other carriers, with USB and headphone ports. I caught a movie and a few TV shows before turning in for the night.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9 seatback IFE screen

The airline utilizes Intelsat’s (formerly Gogo’s) 2Ku Wi-Fi system, which was surprisingly well-priced for such a long flight. Passes ranged from basic to streaming, to something they call “ultimate streaming”. All three were available either as a one-hour pass or full flight, with prices ranging from CAD$8.75 to $34.50.

Screenshot of Wi-Fi Packages.

I ponied up for an hour of the basic plan, and easily sent emails, texts, and updated social media. Speeds were good, at 31.9 Mbps up and 2 Mbps down.

Like most long-haul flights, the carrier offered two meal services. There were no paper menus but it could be accessed via the IFE and the Air Canada app. The first arrived an hour in. The entree was an assortment of veggies and cubed chicken in a cheesy cream sauce alongside a small side salad, bread and brownie. It was all rather bland but filling. Trays were cleared in thirty minutes.

Air Canada meal on a tray table

Turbulence almost canceled the second service, but a lucky break enabled the hard-working crew to hustle out a basic breakfast of a croissant and yogurt. Once again, it was bland but sufficient.

Breakfast on the tray table

I also appreciated the crew’s attentive but polite policing of masking, and enjoyed the comfort of knowing vaccinations are required to be onboard.

Water was available in the galley during the flight, but no snacks. Bathrooms remained relatively clean, even toward the end, but didn’t have any amenities like toothbrushes or combs.

The flight landed a bit early, parking in terminal two. The connection to my next flight, in T3, was smooth though time-consuming.

Air Canada provided an uneventful and reliable service from Seattle to London via Vancouver. Considering the price point — several hundred less than anyone else — it was worth it. Add in an empty row on a long-haul service, and it couldn’t have gone much better.