Air Transat launches a virtual interlining service: connectair by Air Transat

More than 135 additional destinations are now available to Air Transat customers

MONTREAL, Nov. 23, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Transat, named World’s Best Leisure Airline, is pleased to announce the launch of its new connectair by Air Transat service. Using this virtual interlining platform, travellers can now combine Air Transat flights with flights from partner airlines such as easyJet and Avianca to travel to even more destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America. Additional partners will gradually join the platform to enrich the range of destinations.

  “With  connectair by Air Transat , we are becoming the first Canadian airline to offer a virtual interlining service. This platform is enabling us to expand our range with trusted partners and offer consumers a simple and efficient purchasing experience. We are adding a total of more than 135 new exotic and faraway destinations to the 60 or so we already offer in the South, the United States, Europe and Canada,” said Annick Guérard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat. She added: “This new service, perfectly aligned with our network development ambitions, enables us to better meet the needs of our passengers and to expand internationally, in anticipation of the increased demand expected in 2022.”

With a single booking on the connectair.airtransat.com website, travellers can access a wider range of destinations using the technology developed by Dohop, which offers the best connection options and attractive fares depending on the departure and destination cities. The booking also includes a protection in case of flight delay or cancellation, ensuring that travellers arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. This guarantee, called Dohop Connect, will provide a replacement flight at no extra cost.

About Air Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

Air Transat and WestJet to Cooperate on Transatlantic Codeshare

MONTREAL and CALGARY, AB, Nov. 19, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Transat and WestJet, two of Canada’s leading airlines, have agreed to cooperate on a codeshare that will soon allow customers to book transatlantic travel involving both carriers on a single ticket with through-checked bags. The cooperation will bring more choice to consumers by enabling transatlantic codeshare connections above and beyond what the carriers offer with their own flights.

“We are very excited to join forces with WestJet in what I am sure will be a successful collaboration. This agreement is a first milestone in our strategy to grow and strengthen our network through alliances. It will create great opportunities for our existing and future customers, who are looking to connect between North America and Europe and will enhance our long-standing presence on the transatlantic market”, said Annick Guérard, President and CEO of Transat.

“This new codeshare with Air Transat complements our world-class Boeing 787 Dreamliners and our strong relationships with leading European airlines,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.  “Confidence in travel is building and this new transatlantic cooperation will allow WestJet to offer even more destinations to travellers, connecting North America and Europe in new ways, and benefiting guests on both sides of the Atlantic.” 

WestJet’s code will be placed on Air Transat flights to select cities in Europe, and likewise Air Transat’s code will be placed on select WestJet flights in North America to enable both carriers to offer the connecting transatlantic itineraries.

The codeshare agreement is scheduled to be implemented in early 2022, subject to receipt of all customary regulatory approvals.  Additional details and benefits will be communicated once finalized.

About Air Transat

Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that has achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

About WestJet

In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.

For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com

Air Transat announces its summer 2022 flight program

MONTREAL, Nov. 11, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Transat, named World’s Best Leisure Airline, is proud to announce its flight program for the summer of 2022. At the height of the season, it will operate more than 250 flights each week to 44 destinations. It will gradually increase its service to Europe, strengthen its position in the United States by offering flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco for the first time, offer a selection of its most popular South destinations, and enhance its domestic flight program.

“We are actively rebuilding our network with a modern and versatile fleet that will enable us to meet the increased demand expected in 2022,” said Annick Guérard, President and Chief Executive Officer, Transat. “We will be returning to almost all of the destinations served before the pandemic, in addition to offering Canadian travellers major new destinations.”

An expanded Europe flight program

From Montreal, the airline will offer 7 direct flights weekly to London-Gatwick and 14 to Paris. It also plans to restart operations to the French provinces, with service to Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice and Toulouse. A total of 19 European destinations will be accessible via direct service from Montreal, including a new route to Amsterdam.

Air Transat will also strengthen its position as the leading international carrier departing from Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City by offering exclusive non-stop flights to two European capitals: Paris and, for the first time, London.

From Toronto, in addition to 14 weekly flights to London, travellers will also be able to fly to 13 other key European destinations in Croatia, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the U.K.

Number of weekly direct peak-season flights to Europe

DestinationFrom
Montreal
From
Quebec City
From
Toronto
AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands34
ATHENS, Greece33
BASEL-MULHOUSE, Switzerland1
BARCELONA, Spain32
BORDEAUX, France4
BRUSSELS, Belgium3
DUBLIN, Ireland5
GLASGOW, United Kingdom4
LAMEZIA, Italy1
LISBON, Portugal55
LONDON, United Kingdom7114
LYON, France4
MADRID, Spain3
MALAGA, Spain2
MANCHESTER, United Kingdom4
MARSEILLE, France5
NANTES, France3
NICE, France2
PARIS, France1434
PORTO, Portugal23
ROME, Italy45
TOULOUSE, France4
VENICE, Italy21
ZAGREB, Croatia2

United States: focus on California and Florida

From Montreal, Air Transat will introduce a new direct service to California with two flights a week to San Francisco and three to Los Angeles. It will also intensify its service to Florida by operating flights between Montreal and Miami throughout the year, in addition to flying to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando from both Montreal and Toronto.

Finally, travellers from Quebec City will now be able to enjoy direct flights to Fort Lauderdale year-round.

Number of weekly direct peak-season flights to the U.S.

DestinationFrom
Montreal
From
Quebec City
From
Toronto
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida414
LOS ANGELES, California3
MIAMI, Florida3
ORLANDO, Florida23
SAN FRANCISCO, California2

The South all year

Because Canadians are fond of South getaways even during the summer, Air Transat will offer a selection of its most popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean out of Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto.

Number of weekly direct peak-season flights to sun destinations

DestinationFrom
Montreal
From
Quebec City
From
Toronto
CANCÚN, Mexico415
CAYO COCO, Cuba22
HOLGUIN, Cuba11
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica1
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti2
PUERTO PLATA, Dominican Republic21
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic515
SAMANA, Dominican Republic1
SANTA CLARA, Cuba22
VARADERO, Cuba22

More domestic flights and connections

By closely observing the market and emerging travel trends, Air Transat is convinced that the popularity of travel within Canada will still be strong in the summer of 2022, which is why it will continue to enhance its domestic flight program.

These flights will also provide many Canadians with access to international destinations via connections in Toronto and Montreal.

Number of weekly peak-season domestic flights

City-pairNumber of
flights
MONTREAL–CALGARY8
MONTREAL–QUEBEC CITY5
MONTRÉAL–TORONTO15
MONTRÉAL–VANCOUVER10
TORONTO–CALGARY8
TORONTO–VANCOUVER10
Air Transat may have to modify its flight schedule subject to the changing COVID-19 situation and resulting travel restrictions.

About Air Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

Recent distinctions and awards

  • World’s Best Leisure Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards
  • Named to Forbes World’s Best Employers List
  • Best Tour Operator and Favourite Overall Supplier at the Agents’ Choice Awards presented by Baxter Travel Media
  • Ranked as Canada’s 21st best corporate citizen by Corporate Knights

First Canadian offtake agreement – Air Transat and SAF+ announce a major offtake agreement

MONTREAL, Nov. 2, 2021 /CNW/ – Air Transat A.T. Inc. (“Air Transat”) and SAF+ Consortium (“SAF+”) are proud to announce an offtake agreement for 90% of the sustainable e-fuel produced by SAF+ in its first plant over the first 15 years of operation. The agreement, which also includes support for the project’s development, confirms Air Transat’s desire to reduce its environmental footprint and continue its actions to combat climate change by becoming the first airline in Canada to reserve a significant volume of e-fuel over a long period of time.

“This agreement is an important part of our strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. SAF+’s technological approach will greatly contribute to the effort to decarbonize the aviation industry and we are proud to be taking part in building concrete solutions that will enable us to give our customers a low-carbon travel experience,” said Annick Guérard, President and CEO of Transat.

Jean Paquin, President and CEO of SAF+, stated: “Today is a proud moment for SAF+. The signing of this first offtake agreement for a long-term supply of e-fuel in North America is a commitment that every clean technology developer is eager to obtain. This revenue guarantee significantly reduces the level of risk associated with carrying out our project. We have achieved this feat by keeping our promises and having the opportunity to partner with like-minded visionaries.”

Mr. Paquin continued: “Air Transat has always believed in our technological approach and supported us in our journey. With this agreement, we will be able to carry out our business plan and provide our partner with a sustainable solution, enabling it to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and remain a competitive airline while meeting its environmental objectives.”

SAF+ recently announced one of the first productions of sustainable aviation fuel in North America. SAF+’s goal is to bring to market by 2025–2026 a synthetic kerosene whose carbon footprint is 80% lower than fossil kerosene by capturing 120,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. SAF+’s technology involves producing a synthetic liquid fuel by capturing and combining CO2 from industrial sources with green hydrogen produced in Quebec. While there are several types of sustainable fuels, e-fuel is a particularly promising avenue because it does not compete with other uses for its raw material.

About Air Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that has achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

About SAF + CONSORTIUM 
SAF+ CONSORTIUM is a Quebec firm specializing in the development of clean fuel made by capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources. It brings together leading actors spanning the entire aviation value chain to provide Canadians with a sustainable business solution for low-carbon flights. For more information, visit www.safplusconsortium.com.

WestJet suspends nearly 300 employees not fully vaccinated for COVID-19

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

Eric Atkins, Transportation Reporter | 1 November 2021

The federal government says airlines and railways must have policies that require employees be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 30, the same day on which their passengers must prove they have been inoculated against the deadly virus. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

WestJet Airlines Ltd. says it has suspended about 290 employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The suspended workers – about 4 per cent of WestJet’s 7,300-person staff – are not being paid for one month and could face firing if they do not comply with the government-mandated vaccine policy of the Calgary-based airline.

Ottawa said airlines and railways must have policies that require employees be fully vaccinated as of Oct. 30, the same deadline at which passengers were required to prove they have been inoculated against the potentially deadly virus.

Morgan Bell, a WestJet spokeswoman, said the airline has handled a “minimal” number of exemptions to the policy from its staff.

“The WestJet Group has implemented the federal government’s mandatory vaccination policy for air travellers and is operating as a fully vaccinated airline,” Ms. Bell said. “All WestJet Group employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and full vaccination status is a requirement of employment for all future employees hired by the WestJet Group.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents flight attendants at Canada’s airlines, said 47 members at Air Transat and 30 at Sunwing were on unpaid leave as of last Thursday for not being fully vaccinated, or stating they would not comply by the Oct. 30 deadline.

At Air Canada, the carrier is hiring 1,800 flight attendants, CUPE said, to cover for employees who are suspended or declining to return to active duty after being laid off in the pandemic. It is not clear how many suspensions are because of vaccination refusals.

Air Canada said last week about 1,080 staff had yet to comply with the vaccine requirement.

Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing did not immediately respond to questions on Monday.

The Canadian airline industry and much of the global one were grounded and incurred steep losses because of the pandemic, which prompted governments to close borders, bar travellers and impose quarantines, beginning in March, 2020.

Air Canada, which employs 27,000 people, recently recalled all its flight attendants back to work as it adds routes amid higher vaccination rates among Canadians.

– Nicolas Van Praet contributed to this article

Air Transat presents new routes for summer 2022

  • The airline expands its United States program with two new destinations, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as year-round flights to Florida
  • Non-stop service between Montreal – Amsterdam and Quebec City – London

MONTREAL, Oct. 26, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Transat, named World’s Best Leisure Airline, is proud to announce that four new routes will be added to its 2022 summer flight program. For the first time ever, the airline will be serving the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Amsterdam airports from Montreal. Furthermore, it will offer an exclusive direct flight between Quebec City and London, strengthening its role as the leading international carrier from the Jean-Lesage Airport. Finally, Air Transat will operate routes to Fort Lauderdale and Miami year-round.

“By analyzing travel trends, it’s clear that the United States is still one of the top destinations for Quebecers and Canadians in the wake of the pandemic. Thanks to the versatility of our world-class fleet, we are perfectly positioned to meet this demand and quickly adapt to our passengers’ needs, which is why our service south of the border will be expanding starting in 2022,” explains Annick Guérard, President and Chief Executive Officer at Transat.

Chasing the sun across the border

Air Transat is enhancing its United States flight program with the addition of California. The Montreal – San Francisco flight will be operated twice weekly, while the Montreal – Los Angeles flight will run three times a week.

Due to sustained demand for flights to Florida, certain routes that were previously available only in winter will now be offered throughout the year. During summer, the Montreal – Miami flight will be operated three times a week and the Quebec City – Fort Lauderdale flight, once weekly.

More non-stop flights to Europe

At the same time, the carrier is expanding its service to Europe by adding direct service for two segments, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, making Air Transat the only Canadian airline to fly direct from Montreal to the Dutch capital.

The Montreal – Amsterdam flight will run three times a week and the Quebec City – London flight, once weekly.

About Air Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that has achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

Recent distinctions and awards

  • World’s Best Leisure Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards
  • Named to Forbes World’s Best Employers List
  • Best Tour Operator and Favourite Overall Supplier at the Agents’ Choice Awards presented by Baxter Travel Media
  • Ranked as Canada’s 21st best corporate citizen by Corporate Knights

Air Transat announces direct service between Quebec City and London

The airline also continues to enhance its overall offering out of Jean Lesage International Airport

MONTREAL, Oct. 25, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Transat, (TSX: TRZ) voted World’s Best Leisure Airline, is pleased to announce that it will offer an exclusive non-stop service between Quebec City and London. From May 11 to September 28, 2022, travellers from the province of Quebec’s Capitale-Nationale region will be able to benefit from weekly direct flights to London’s Gatwick airport, making it easier than ever to discover this must-see European destination. At the same time, British tourists will now have direct access to magnificent Quebec City.

From left to right: Joseph Adamo, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Transat; Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB); Geneviève Guilbault, Quebec Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Security and minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale; Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism and minister responsible for the Lanaudière and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions; Robert Mercure, General Manager of Destination Québec cité (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)
From left to right: Joseph Adamo, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Transat; Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB); Geneviève Guilbault, Quebec Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Security and minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale; Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism and minister responsible for the Lanaudière and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions; Robert Mercure, General Manager of Destination Québec cité (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)

“We are proud to have been serving Quebec City since our very beginnings more than 30 years ago, and to be the leading international carrier departing from Jean Lesage Airport, with an array of exclusive routes that is constantly being enhanced,” said Joseph Adamo, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Transat. “London is the world’s number one international market, and this route’s strong tourism potential is undeniable, both for Quebec travellers and for Britons who want to visit our beautiful province. The addition of this city-pair is an integral part of our strategic plan and our ambitions for developing our offering out of the Capitale-Nationale region.”

Stéphane Poirier, President and CEO of Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB), noted: “The addition of a flight to a destination as important as London is a dream come true for us at YQB, but also for many people in the Greater Quebec City area. Although our industry has been severely weakened by the global pandemic, Air Transat has chosen to invest in our market by offering the public a second direct connection to Europe, after Paris. It is essential that passengers return if we are to prove to Air Transat that it was right to place its trust in us.”

Geneviève Guilbault, Quebec Deputy Premier, Minister of Public Security and minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region, stated: “The pandemic has impacted the travel industry around the world. This announcement is a breath of fresh air for our airport, for the tourism industry of our beautiful Capitale-Nationale region and for our citizens who are eager to rediscover the pleasure of travelling comfortably and safely.” She added: “I hope that this announcement is just the first of many that will help strengthen Québec City Jean Lesage’s standing as an international airport.”

For her part, Caroline Proulx, Minister of Tourism and minister responsible for the Lanaudière and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions, said: “With this excellent news, Air Transat and Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport are sending a strong signal that the tourism recovery is well underway, and that the province of Quebec and its Capital-Nationale region remain at the top of the list of popular destinations for European tourists. The creation of a new Quebec City-London route illustrates the success of the efforts made by all the partners in the tourism industry and by your government to maintain our charming Capitale-Nationale’s ability to welcome visitors, as well as its attractiveness throughout the pandemic. The entire tourism industry and the wonderful Capitale-Nationale region will undoubtedly benefit from this new traffic.”

Robert Mercure, General Manager of the Destination Québec cité tourism development organization, stated: “This new Quebec City-London route serve as an important lever for our tourism recovery. Attractions, restaurants, businesses and hotels have been hard hit by the pandemic and the absence of international tourists over the past 18 months. The provincial capital’s flight offering must be diversified if our destination is to remain competitive and we can only welcome this addition, which broadens our market development opportunities.”

London-bound passengers will travel on the new-generation Airbus A321neoLR aircraft, which are perfectly aligned with the company’s ongoing efforts in responsible tourism, including a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. They consume 15% less fuel, and reduce both noise and NOx greenhouse gas emissions by half.

The route will operate on Wednesdays from Quebec City and Thursdays from London-Gatwick.

Enhanced service from Quebec City for summer 2022

Air Transat is continuing to expand its international service out of Quebec City by offering direct flights to six other destinations for the summer of 2022.

In addition to serving London, Air Transat also plans to restart its service between Quebec City and Paris, enabling travellers to enjoy exclusive service to two of Europe’s major metropolises. Sun-lovers are also sure to find something to their liking thanks to direct flights to Fort Lauderdale, now offered year-round, as well as connections to Cancún in Mexico and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Full details of Air Transat’s 2022 summer flight schedule will be announced shortly. 

About Air Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Air Transat is a leading leisure travel brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. It is renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to its operations and the magnificent destinations it offers. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a world-renowned holiday travel provider that has achieved Travelife certification in 2018 in recognition of its sustainability commitments.

Recent distinctions and awards

  • World’s Best Leisure Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards
  • Named to Forbes World’s Best Employers List
  • Best Tour Operator and Favourite Overall Supplier at the Agents’ Choice Awards presented by Baxter Travel Media
  • Ranked as Canada’s 21st best corporate citizen by Corporate Knights

Transat announces the appointment of Patrick Bui as Chief Financial Officer

MONTREAL, Oct. 7, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Transat A.T. Inc. (“Transat” or the “Company“) is pleased to announce the appointment of Patrick Bui as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Bui will assume his new role on November 15.

Patrick Bui, Chief Financial Officer, Effective November 15 (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)
Patrick Bui, Chief Financial Officer, Effective November 15 (CNW Group/Transat A.T. Inc.)

Mr. Bui served most recently as Chief Financial Officer for Kruger Energy, a renewable-energy producer with operations throughout the Americas. Previously, he worked as an investment banker and advisor on financial and growth strategies and mergers and acquisitions, notably at RBC Capital Markets and Morgan Stanley. He was also a policy advisor to the Quebec Minister of Finance. Mr. Bui holds an MBA from INSEAD and a BBA from HEC Montréal, as well as a CFA designation.

“I am very pleased to welcome Patrick to the Transat team,” said Annick Guérard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat. “His experience in the financial management of a company operating in a rapidly changing industry will be invaluable in helping Transat implement its strategic plan, optimize its capital structure and achieve the Company’s new ambitions in the wake of the pandemic crisis.”

She added: “I would like to thank Jacques Simoneau, who is acting as interim CFO until Patrick arrives. His help and support have been invaluable over the past few months.”

For his part, Mr. Bui commented: “I am eager to join Transat to participate in the restart of its operations and in its development in the coming years. I am honoured to join a company whose brand shines brightly in Quebec, and which has just been acclaimed World’s Best Leisure Airline once again.”

About Transat
Founded in Montreal 35 years ago, Transat has grown to become a holiday travel reference worldwide, particularly as an air carrier under the Air Transat brand. Voted World’s Best Leisure Airline by passengers at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, it flies to international and Canadian destinations, striving to serve its customers with enthusiasm and friendliness at every stage of their trip or stay, and emphasizing safety throughout. Transat has been Travelife-certified since 2018, renewing its fleet with the greenest aircraft in their category as part of a commitment to a healthier environment, knowing that this is essential to the integrity of its operations and the magnificent destinations it serves. (TSX: TRZ).

Flight attendants exhausted by COVID-19 pandemic-fuelled rise in passenger bad behaviour

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

AMANDA STEPHENSON, CALGARY, ALBERTA | THE CANADIAN PRESS | SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

Canadian flight attendants say they are being subjected to unacceptable levels of abuse from passengers as the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on. NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Passenger disobedience, rudeness, and aggressive behaviour is on the rise and directly impacting the health and well-being of airline employees, according to unions representing flight attendants at the country’s major airlines.

“Our people go to work and they anticipate having altercations with our guests on board,” said Chris Rauenbusch, an active cabin crew employee with Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. and president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4070. “Some people have mental health conditions and need to take leaves due to these circumstances. It’s not what we signed up for as flight attendants, but it’s unfortunately become our new reality.”

“Every time you approach someone you have in your mind that this could be stage one of a seriously escalating situation,” said Troy Winters, senior officer for health and safety with CUPE National. The union represents more than 15,000 flight attendants at nine different Canadian airlines, including WestJet, Air Canada and Transat.

“It’s not as bad as it is in the States, there’s not as much serious violence, but we certainly do have folks who are overly belligerent.”

While reports of increasingly disruptive behaviour in recent months on American flights have prompted calls for U.S. lawmakers to crack down on the problem, data suggests the problem is escalating in Canada as well. Flight attendants say many of the problems stem from passengers who refuse to obey the federal requirement to wear a face mask on board.

According to Transport Canada, incidences of passenger non-compliance with the mask mandate spiked over the summer. Airlines reported 330 passengers to the regulator for refusing to wear a mask during July and August, more than twice the number of incidents reported in April and May.

The rise can be partially attributed to increased passenger volumes as airlines reinstated routes and Canadians began to travel again over the summer. But Winters said he doesn’t believe that’s the only factor at play. As the pandemic drags on, tempers and anxieties are flaring, and Winters said it doesn’t help that different provincial governments have been sending different messages.

“You’ve got different jurisdictions like Alberta and Saskatchewan, in the summer they declared the pandemic’s over and you don’t need to wear masks any more. So folks coming out of those regions are saying ‘I don’t need to do it,’ ” he said.

“It’s an issue that’s not going away,” Rauenbusch said. “I do anticipate as we get into Thanksgiving and Christmas travel season, we’ll see a little more of what we’re seeing in the States.”

When airlines report an incident of non-compliance to Transport Canada, the regulator has a range of enforcement measures at its disposal, from letters of warning for first time offences to monetary penalties of up to $5,000. Since September of last year, Transport Canada has levied fines against 36 passengers for failing to wear a mask.

Criminal charges are also possible in the event that a passenger uses abusive language, issues verbal or physical threats towards employees or other passengers, or is otherwise deemed to be “unruly.” Though not all such cases are related to mask wearing or other public health requirements, documented instances of “unruly” passengers on Canadian aircraft have been disproportionately high during the pandemic. There were 73 recorded cases in 2020, only a 25 per cent drop from the year before in spite of the fact that passenger volumes declined by more than 70 per cent.

Flight attendants say the official numbers actually downplay the seriousness of the situation. While Transport Canada asks airlines to report every instance of passengers refusing to wear a mask, Winters said in reality crew members only report the most severe cases.

“It’s definitely under-reported,” he said. “Everyone that you have to ask three times to put their mask back on isn’t getting written up, because then you’d be writing forms from the time you got off the flight until a couple days later.”

WestJet said it has issued 118 travel bans against passengers for refusing to wear a mask since the airline introduced its “zero tolerance” policy in September of 2020.

“Since January 1, 2021, we have safely flown more than three million guests who are doing an excellent job adhering to the regulations to ensure the safety of all,” said WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell in an e-mail. “The total cases of non-compliance represent less than 0.02 per cent of travellers.”

Neither Air Canada, Transat AT and Porter Airlines Inc. declined to provide company-specific statistics on mask-wearing or disruptive passenger behaviour.

How Annick Guerard is leading the fightback at Canada’s Air Transat

From Flight Global – link to source story

By Pilar Wolfsteller | 28 September 2021

With a little help from new partners and a determination not to dwell on a punishing 18 months for the business, Annick Guerard is plotting a secure future for Air Transat

Montreal winters are painfully, unspeakably cold. Within minutes of exposure, uncovered skin could succumb to frostbite and wet hair freezes into icicles. Canadians know that it is unwise to spend long periods outdoors in such conditions.

But on a ridiculously frigid day back in 2001, a young Annick Guerard found herself on the apron of a Montreal-area airport, shadowing Air Transat maintenance professionals who were about to inspect and repair the wing of an aircraft. The temperature was -35°C (-31°F), and Guerard was bundled up in the warmest clothes she could find.

“I was dressed to go to the North Pole, and the mechanics began to remove their gloves to work,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She was there as a senior consultant for Deloitte, and Transat was her client. A civil engineer who had earned a degree at Polytechnique Montreal, and who holds a master’s degree in business administration from HEC Montreal, Guerard had specialised in logistics management and implementing continuous-improvement programmes in the transportation and manufacturing sectors.

OBVIOUS PASSION

During two weeks embedded in Transat’s line maintenance department, she watched in astonishment as mechanics forged on in the sub-zero climate, day after day. And despite the brutal, surreal weather, she felt an immediate connection with the workers and their company. Their passion for the airline was tangible, several even sporting tattoos of the carrier’s star logo.

Barely a year later, perhaps in part as a result of her grit on that icy assignment, Air Transat hired her as its senior director for strategy and customer experience. Two decades on, she’s now the chief executive.

Air Transat

Source: Benedicte Brocard

Guerard laughs at the story of her first encounter with the airline that would propel her to the top of her profession. But it is clear she holds deep respect for the employees who made Air Transat the company it is today.

“I love this company. I love everything about it. I love the people, and I love to come to work every day,” she says.

Guerard, now 50 years old, took the controls at the airline in May, as it faced twin crises, either of which could have signalled the end of the 35-year-old brand: a global coronavirus pandemic that seemed to never end, and the termination of a blockbuster deal with cross-town rival Air Canada that had been conceived to rescue the ailing carrier.

“It has been very tough these past few months,” she says, reflectively. “Sometimes we didn’t know if we would make it to the end of the day.”

The worst part, she says, was making the painful decision to shut down temporarily and lay off workers.

From the beginning of the pandemic through to August of this year, Canada had some of the strictest and longest-running pandemic-driven travel restrictions anywhere. Federal entry requirements for passengers arriving from outside Canada – including a required quarantine period in a government-authorised facility at the travellers’ cost – and regional regulations made travelling to or within Canada a complex undertaking.

Transat was forced to suspend flight operations twice since the beginning of the global health crisis. It first ceased operations from 1 April until 23 July 2020, joining numerous other airlines that quickly and radically slashed costs, battening down hatches as the still-little-known virus portended disaster for the global aviation industry.

IMPOSSIBLE TASK

“Trying to forecast demand at one point was just impossible. Our teams were redesigning the programme week after week, adapting to the new border restrictions and requirements,” she says.

Transat shut down again in February 2021, this time at the government’s request, in an attempt to quash any chance of infected passengers entering from abroad.

The de facto cancellation of Canada’s all-important spring-break travel season, when many Canadians seek out sunny destinations and warmer weather, hit the holiday specialist particularly hard. And still, the federal government declined to provide the industry with financial relief.

On Guerard’s first earnings call as chief executive in June, she reported an entire quarter without revenue.

In addition to dealing with the biggest industry crisis of our time, Transat spent much of the past two years attempting to close a deal with Air Canada that promised to strengthen and stabilise the brand. The timeline of the planned marriage, announced in 2019 and originally expected to close by mid-2020, was thrown off by the pandemic. Covid-19 also forced a radical rework of terms.

The legacy carrier initially offered to buy Transat for C$18 ($14.26) per share, making the deal worth about C$720 million. But following the precipitous decline in air travel demand, Air Canada slashed the price to C$5 per share. Transat’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved the new offer in December 2020, seeing it as a last-ditch means to salvage the company.

The Canadian government approved the transaction in early February, subject to conditions including job assurances, a commitment to maintain a significant presence in French-speaking Canada, the launch of new destinations within five years and what the government called “a price-monitoring mechanism”.

But two months later, after significant foot-dragging, the European Commission effectively nixed the deal because of competition concerns on European routes, leading the companies to call it off completely.

At the time, both airlines expressed frustration at the drawn-out process and the Commission’s conditions, which Air Canada called “onerous”, and “beyond commercially reasonable”.

A separate offer from an independent investor was also retracted, and negotiations ended shortly thereafter.

Canada’s number three airline was left to founder, and figure out how to go it alone.

Guerard does not look back, and does not spare a word for the deal that might have been. The company finally received C$700 million in federal financial aid in April – C$390 million to keep it operational, and C$310 million to reimburse customers whose flights had been cancelled.

Air Transat

Source: Benedicte Brocard

“Honestly, we wish the government had shown more concern for the industry from the beginning of the crisis, like we saw early on in Europe and the USA,” she says. “But we are grateful for the financial support that we got in the spring. It gave us the breathing space we needed to move forward.”

Transat’s speciality is selling package tours and operating flights to popular tourist destinations, particularly those in Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Before Covid-19, the company had 5,200 employees. At the height of the crisis it had laid off up to 85% of the workforce, and currently has just 1,300. Guerard says that the airline is targeting to grow back to 4,300 employees by the end of 2023.

The pauses forced the carrier to critically review its processes and structures, and to do more with less. In 2018, Transat had launched a transformation project that saw it begin moving away from its tour operating business and travel agency network, and investing more in its airline. In the past year and a half, the company accelerated the project’s key initiatives, which include simplifying the fleet, flattening workforce hierarchies, centralising functions and implementing other cost-saving measures.

Transat, which had been one of the last airlines operating Airbus A310-300s, retired the last of the widebody twinjets in 2020. It also stopped operating Boeing 737NGs, leaving it with just two Airbus types: A321s and A330s.

After restarting flight operations on 30 July and spooling up in August, the airline had nine of its 10 4,000nm (7,410km)-range A321LRs in operation by September. Transat holds orders for seven more of the type, which it expects will enter the fleet in the next two years. The carrier also has seven A321ceos, which it hopes to reactivate by November, helping ensure the airline has enough jets to serve a network expected by winter to encompass 50 destinations

COCKPIT COMMONALITY

In addition, the airline has 12 widebody A330s – all are currently in storage, but Transat anticipates returning them to service in December.

“With this mix, we have attained cockpit commonality which provides several advantages, including that pilots have the ability to be current on more than one aircraft type at a time,” Guerard says.

Of course, the return of those aircraft depends on the return of Transat’s customers. And customers will come back only when movement becomes easier, and virus mitigation strategies are co-ordinated, especially across national borders.

“Today, it takes a PhD with a speciality in ‘travel restrictions’ to understand how to travel between countries,” she says. “Even if we are all vaccinated, the demand won’t come back because it will still be too complicated for people to travel.”

And with Canada’s federal election coming up in October, the tourism industry is currently not the government’s top priority.

In five years, though, Transat hopes to grow to 55 aircraft. Guerard is eyeing the 4,700nm (8,704km)-range A321XLR, which she calls a “superstar single-aisle” that is best suited for the routes Transat operates.

“Fifty-five aircraft is still a small fleet… We don’t want to go back to where we were, with a complex and not-well-adapted fleet, which in the past caused us many efficiency and utilisation problems,” she says.

So it is natural that in this new post-pandemic, post-failed-merger normalcy, Transat is looking to optimise its resources, to punch above its weight. Guerard alludes to something more ambitious than existing as just another low-cost leisure airline ferrying winter-weary Canadian snowbirds to sun-soaked Caribbean beaches.

“Our network was designed to serve point-to-point traffic, and we have clearly understood the limitations of operating in isolation,” she says.

“We want to offer more destinations and options to our clients. So we are looking at partners to do that, and alliances are a key part of our network development strategy,” she adds.

Airbus

Source: Liner/Shutterstock.com

A321LRs have re-entered service as Air Transat ramps up its operations

For the moment, she declines to name names. What she does reveal is that both North American and European airlines are in the mix.

“We have a strong asset to offer to potential partners, [and are] looking to increase our footprint between America and Europe and sun destinations. So, our approach right now is to start with simple bilateral agreements, which will give us some quick wins,” she says. “And these partnerships may evolve into something more important and strategic in the near future.”

Guerard says she was well prepared for her promotion to chief executive after spending more than three years as the company’s chief operations officer alongside now-retired former chief and airline co-founder Jean-Marc Eustache. During that time, she got a good look at the top job and spearheaded the fleet modernisation plan, digital and IT upgrades and revenue- and cost-management improvement efforts.

“There were no real surprises,” she says of the transition. “And it’s always great when the succession comes from within [the company]. It shows that the talent development management has worked well.”

STRONG RESOLVE

The past 18 months have steeled her resolve to lead the carrier out of the coronavirus disruption as a stronger, leaner and more-focused airline.

“We have always excelled in adversity. We are fighters, and we have gone to war together,” Guerard says of the company. “At the beginning, we felt comfortable to be able to deal with this kind of crisis, but of course we never expected that we would remain in crisis mode for so long.

“Over the past year and a half decisions needed to be co-ordinated very efficiently, whether it was managing cash flow, paying the bills, co-ordinating the layoffs, organising the recall, parking the airplanes or repatriating our clients. Everything had to be executed perfectly and fast.”

She says Transat’s employees rose to the challenge.

Just like the tattooed mechanics, peeling off their winter gloves on the ice-cold airport tarmac 20 years ago, ready to repair a wing.