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Old March 30th, 2006, 04:18 PM   #461
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WestJet lays down the law on staff conduct; Espionage is out; protecting data is in
30 March 2006
The Globe and Mail

Just in case there's any fragment of doubt, WestJet Airlines Ltd. is making it clear that hiring spies to snoop on Air Canada is out of bounds and carelessly throwing company secrets into the trash is tantamount to treason.

WestJet wants its employees to jealously guard internal data, amending its code of business conduct nearly two years after Air Canada accused the Calgary carrier of stealing sensitive information.

It's part of WestJet's broader goal to reassert itself as the honest and courteous airline instead of one that allegedly gained an unfair advantage by hacking into a confidential Air Canada website.

Although WestJet's main website states that its internal code of conduct won't be released to the public, the company filed the document for the first time yesterday with Canadian securities regulators.

In the 23-page code, there are motivational touches with slogans such as “We are Team WestJet,” “WestJet's image is important to its success,” and “We personify the hard-working ‘can-do' attitude.”

There are also stern passages, with WestJet telling its workers to “ensure that paper documents are securely shredded” and to diligently classify information under three categories — “Internal, Confidential and Restricted.”

WestJet's code tells workers to take the high road if they stumble across a rival's secrets, saying it's best to seek legal advice first from WestJet if someone from a competing airline, for whatever reason, volunteers to forward internal data.

Lest anyone go astray, WestJet spells out improper behaviours: “Corporate espionage actions, such as using listening devices, gaining access to buildings by subterfuge, buying information from competitors' employees, hacking employee computer systems, and the like.”

The carrier wants its employees to be proud “WestJetters,” warning against “misrepresenting oneself to gain access to competitor information; i.e., pretending to be a reporter or repairman.”

A good rule of thumb? “Never deposit Restricted or Confidential in the trash or an insecure recycling bin,” WestJet's code advises.

As for the nitty-gritty of labelling, WestJetters are supposed to methodically classify internal memos, letters and e-mails. Employees are asked to “attach a label to the document, using a header or footer, a stamp or add as part of a signature in an e-mail.”

The company provides examples of its escalating security levels: Details on procedures for handling unruly guests (internal); quarterly financial results still being compiled (confidential); and marketing analysis of potential new routes (restricted).

“This includes information that could be used by competitors to their advantage. Competitors would like to learn as much as they can about us. If a competitor learned about WestJet's plans to enter a new market at a certain fare, it could harm WestJet by offering a lower fare on that route before we were ready to begin service.”

Montreal-based Air Canada is suing WestJet for $220-million, alleging that the smaller carrier hacked into a confidential Air Canada reservations website and stole sensitive data. WestJet denies any wrongdoing and none of the allegations has been proved in court.

Two years ago, Air Canada hired private investigators to search WestJet co-founder Mark Hill's trash in the Victoria suburb of Oak Bay. Air Canada, which said in court filings that its internal papers were found shredded in his trash, later hired a U.S. firm to digitally reconstruct the documents.

The code offers a reminder that, besides protecting papers, employees must be careful with “spreadsheets, computer programs, e-mails, display screens, computer tapes, CDs and diskettes.”

The carrier's renewed emphasis on corporate integrity extends to contractors and consultants, who are asked to join the drive to be “positive and passionate about everything we do.”

Touting honesty as the best policy, WestJet outlines some danger signals that merit reporting to the airline's anonymous hotline: “Working late, you notice a fellow worker loading his or her car with WestJet equipment or parts” or “a fellow worker drinks during prohibition period or reports for duty unfit for work” or “someone you don't know, or who claims to be an executive or part of the Help Desk, calls you and asks for your password.”

WestJet also strives to put its best foot forward with its own carefully crafted marketing strategy.

“It is extremely important that only persons designated by management communicate with the public. Undesignated employees must never provide information about WestJet to reporters or other media representatives.”
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Old April 1st, 2006, 05:01 AM   #462
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WestJet asks customers to assume 'winglet' pose

CALGARY, Alberta, March 31 (Reuters) - Canada's WestJet Airlines Ltd. issued a press release on Friday urging customers to help it conserve fuel by imitating a winglet, the vertical extension at the end of airplane wings, while in their seats during flights.

"Beginning tomorrow, we ask that every guest aboard a WestJet aircraft assume the inflight winglet position upon takeoff," the release said. "This involves straightening the arms at a 90-degree angle to the side of the body, holding the fingers together and positioning the hand at an 90-degree angle upward."

The Calgary-based airline, Canada's second-largest behind Air Canada, later said the release was indeed a joke to mark April Fool's Day on Saturday, but also served to promote the company's recently acquired Boeing 737-700 aircraft. It expects to have 12 of the planes leased this year and six more in 2007 as it replaces older, less fuel efficient models.

The company has a history of odd promotions. In January, just in advance of a Canadian federal election, it offered free flights to anyone having the same name as a federal party leader.

Gillian Bentley, a spokeswoman for the company, said WestJet has issued April Fool's releases before.

"We've done a few of these kind of things in the past but not for the last few years," she said. "So we thought it was time.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 06:12 AM   #463
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Air Canada leases additional Boeing 777-300ER to accelerate wide-body fleet renewal and modernization
Monday April 3, 8:01 am ET CNW Group


MONTREAL, April 3 /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada announced today it has signed a 10-year lease for one new Boeing 777-300ER from International Lease Finance Corporation to accelerate its wide-body fleet renewal and modernization program.
Air Canada will take delivery of the leased aircraft in May 2007, bringing to eight the total number of Boeing 777s entering the fleet next year. Delivery of the leased aircraft will allow Air Canada to accelerate by nearly two years the return of a leased Airbus A340-300 originally scheduled to be returned to ILFC in mid-2009. The transaction is part of an ongoing renewal program that will give Air Canada one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world and provide savings on fuel, expanded range capabilities and other efficiencies.

In November 2005, Air Canada announced that it had concluded agreements with Boeing for the acquisition of up to 36 Boeing 777s and up to 60 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The agreements include firm orders for 18 Boeing 777s, plus purchase rights for 18 more, in a yet-to-be determined mix of the 777 family's newest models: the 777-300ER, the 777-200LR Worldliner and the 777 freighter. Delivery of the 777 aircraft is scheduled to commence in March 2007. The agreements also include firm orders for 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, plus options and purchase rights for an additional 46 aircraft. Air Canada's first 787 is scheduled for delivery in 2010.

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Old April 4th, 2006, 06:26 AM   #464
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Old April 4th, 2006, 07:07 AM   #465
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YAHOO! News

(Just when I though AC could not get any worse...)

WASHINGTON - Ask for a pillow and blanket to help get through a long flight and you may be out of luck. Or you may be able to buy a "comfort package" from Air Canada for $2. Like to check your luggage curbside? That could cost up to $3 a bag.




Airlines are starting to charge for many services that once were free — such as assigned seating, paper tickets and blankets. Air travelers who don't fly often may be in for some unpleasant surprises when they reach the airport this summer.

"They're going to be confused and they're going to be somewhat upset," said Kevin Mitchell, president of the Business Travelers Coalition. "Is it going to stop them from flying? No."

Intense competition from low-fare airlines along with high jet-fuel prices have led many established carriers to cut back or charge passengers for amenities.

Many airlines no longer serve meals on flights, instead charging for snack boxes and sandwiches.

Sharon Ansara, a government supervisor from El Paso, Texas, flew an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Washington Monday morning.

"We didn't even get peanuts," she said after the 2-1/2 hour flight. "They offered us a snack pack for $4. It stinks."

American spokesman Tim Wagner said that passengers have made it clear that their first priority in buying an airline ticket is price. The company offers a la carte services — such as snack packs — for those willing to pay for them.

Air Canada, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, decided against eliminating pillows and blankets, as some airlines have done. Instead, the airline decided to give passengers the choice of buying an inflatable pillow and a light fleece blanket for $2, according to spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur.

There are limits to what passengers will pay for.

American Eagle, which flies commuter flights for American, experimented in January with charging passengers for soft drinks.

"They evaluated customer response," Wagner said. "The customer response was, 'No, we don't want to pay $1 for a soft drink.'" The test ended, he said.

Some services once taken for granted are now viewed as amenities as the burden of ticketing now falls on the passenger with the home computer instead of airline employees.

Talking to an airline reservation agent instead of booking a ticket on the Internet will add $5 or $10 to the price of a ticket. A paper ticket instead of a computer-generated one will cost $20 or $30 for a domestic flight.

Passengers are also finding that the limits on baggage size and weight are lower, and that airlines are enforcing them. For most airlines, passengers are charged at least $25 for a bag that weighs more than 50 pounds. A third checked bag will cost $80 on many airlines.

Some airlines are now even charging to reserve seats with extra legroom.

United Airlines charges $24-$99 to sit in the Economy Plus section, which has five extra inches of leg room.

Some international carriers also charge for aisle or bulkhead seats. Northwest Airlines in March began charging $15 for exit rows some forward aisle seats.

Carol Mundt, a retiree who lives in the Washington area, travels frequently for visits and vacations. She heard about Northwest's new seat assignment charges.

"I was appalled that they would charge me for my aisle seat," she said while waiting to pick up a friend at Washington's Reagan National Airport.

Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said Northwest has to be able to compete against low-cost airlines like Southwest, which doesn't assign seats at all.

Southwest, which carried more people in the U.S. than any other airline, doesn't charge for a la carte services, with the exception of overweight and oversize bags.

A soft drink, a bag of pretzels and a changed ticket don't cost extra, said Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart.

But Southwest doesn't offer services such as assigned seating or keeping an eye on an unaccompanied child who's making a connection.

Continental Airlines is one of the few that still offers hot meals on domestic flights.

Sandy Gorie, 45, a real estate project manager, lives in Cleveland and takes Continental to Washington on Monday mornings and returns on Friday nights.

"I've been doing this since November and my Continental experience has been great," she said.
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Old April 11th, 2006, 04:46 PM   #466
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Air Canada hikes fares as fuel costs rise

TORONTO, April 11 (Reuters) - ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. unit Air Canada said on Tuesday it will increase ticket prices in a bid to control rising costs for fuel.

Air Canada will raise prices immediately for travel between Canada and the United States as fuel costs, its second-largest operating expense after labor, maintains lofty levels.

The company said base fares for flights within Canada have been increased each way by C$6 ($5) on short-haul flights, C$8 on medium-haul flights and C$10 on long-haul flights.

Base fares for flights between Canada and the United States will rise each way by C$6 on short haul flights, C$8 on medium haul flights, and C$10 on long haul flights.

($1=$1.15 Canadian)
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Old April 14th, 2006, 06:45 AM   #467
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Canada's WestJet flies fuller planes in March

TORONTO, April 5 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd. said on Wednesday it flew fuller planes in March and appeared upbeat as it prepares to offer new non-stop flights across Canada later this year.

Calgary, Alberta-based WestJet said load factor, a measure of how well it fills seats, rose to a record high of 81.9 percent in March from 77.8 percent in March 2005.

WestJet also said passenger traffic, measured as revenue passenger miles, rose 15 percent during the same period.

For the first three months of 2006, WestJet's load factor is up 5.8 percent from the same period of 2005, while passenger traffic is up 19 percent.
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Old April 20th, 2006, 05:07 PM   #468
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Air Canada goes off the bottle
20 April 2006
The Globe and Mail

Air Canada is ditching glass wine bottles in favour of lightweight containers on its Montreal-to-Paris route this week in a trial to reduce the weight of its planes, underscoring the airline's drive to save on fuel as oil prices soar.

“If the test proves successful, our current high-quality French wines from Domaine Paul Mas will eventually be packaged in the new format,” Air Canada told employees in an internal e-mail yesterday.

The experiment with abandoning the venerable vino bottle in favour of the Tetra Pak (the juice box is one) is the Montreal-based carrier's latest effort to find innovative ways to reduce fuel bills. For every kilogram shed, the airline estimates each aircraft could save at least $150 a year in fuel costs, so every little bit helps.

Air Canada completed a six-week test on its Montreal-to-Cancun route using new galley carts that are two-thirds the weight of traditional ones. The new full-size cart weighs 10 kilograms less than older models, and a half-size cart is 5.5 kg lighter.

Air Canada executives, eager to embrace aircraft weight-loss programs, have recently introduced several other plans to lighten the load.

Those measures include only partly filling water tanks, and disposing of empty wine bottles at the arrival city instead of flying them back to the departure site.

The airline has a “fuel-efficiency team” that's canvassing employees for suggestions, and the Tetra Pak idea came from flight attendant Judy Gordon and information technology manager Valerie Lepieszo.

“Tetra Paks [possibly made in Canada by Tetra Pak in Richmond Hill, Ont.,] would not only help reduce aircraft weight by approximately 50 kg per international flight, but they would also provide additional benefits, including 33 per cent more wine for the same price and in the same amount of stowage space,” the Air Canada e-mail said.

So far, the carrier likes what it sees in the shift to packaged wine in the transatlantic trial, stating that the “quality of wine remains the same” and praising “easier handling for flight attendants and kitchen handlers.”

As well, “unlike glass bottles, Tetra Paks won't break and that means no injuries to employees. The Tetra Paks are also warehouse friendly because they can handle greater shifts in temperature and are 100 per cent recyclable.”

Last October, Air Canada began charging $2 for a “comfort zone” kit consisting of an inflatable plastic pillow and polyester blanket. That lighter-weight kit on short-haul flights has allowed the airline to jettison its regular pillows and blankets.

The carrier also tightened weight limits last fall on the free-checked-luggage allowance, making ground handlers happy to see heavier pieces disappear.

In the three months after the luggage limits came into effect, “baggage-related workplace injuries decreased by approximately 48 per cent and productivity increased by more than 57 per cent, compared with the same period the previous year,” Air Canada said.

It's not just shedding aircraft weight that helps the bottom line. The airline is also conserving fuel whenever possible, including shutting down an engine during the taxiing phase and minimizing the use of auxiliary power at gates.

Air Canada started a program last August to lock in the prices it pays for some of its fuel. And last week, the carrier raised the fuel charge on its base fares for the third time in a year.

While many plans to slash weight and save on fuel expenses have been implemented, Air Canada decided last month that it doesn't make sense to strip the paint off its fleet of 45 Boeing 767 aircraft. The airline removed paint from one plane in a test, but the aluminum skin required extra maintenance, outweighing the benefits of lower fuel costs.

Carriers around the world have found novel ways to cut kilograms. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc., for instance, has removed phones from some economy-class sections of its aircraft.
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Old April 21st, 2006, 12:50 AM   #469
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To be profitable, you have to be inovative
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 09:47 PM   #470
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Air Canada parent's credit rating boosted
CP
21 April 2006



ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., owner of Air Canada, had its corporate credit rating raised one level by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services because the carrier's financial performance exceeded that of some North American rivals. The rating on Montreal-based ACE was raised to B+ from B, Standard & Poor's analyst Kenton Freitag said in a report yesterday. The new rating is four levels below investment grade.
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Old April 28th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #471
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WestJet returns to profit in first quarter

TORONTO, April 27 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd. returned to profit in the first quarter after a year-earlier loss, on the back of record load factors and improved yields, the company said on Thursday.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company, Canada's No. 2 airline, earned C$12.9 million ($11.4 million), or 10 Canadian cents a share, compared with a loss of C$9.6 million, or 8 Canadian cents per share in the first quarter of last year.

"During this quarter, we have witnessed record breaking load factors as well as improved yields, all of which we have achieved while continuing to add capacity," chief executive Clive Beddoe said in a statement. "This accomplishment, which is hard to attain in the airline industry, is one we have now achieved over the past three quarters."

WestJet's revenue during the quarter rose to C$387.6 million, from C$294.6 million a year earlier.

WestJet said it expects further growth in Eastern Canada, transborder flights and the business-traveller market.

($1=$1.13 Canadian)
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Old May 29th, 2006, 04:32 PM   #472
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WestJet And Air Canada Settle Dispute
29 May 2006
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA.T) and Air Canada have agreed to settle their litigation, with WestJet agreeing to pay Air Canada's investigation and litigation costs of C$5.5 million.

WestJet admitted that certain members of its management "engaged in an extensive practice of covertly accessing a password protected proprietary employee Web site maintained by Air Canada to download detailed and commercially sensitive information without authorization or consent from Air Canada. This practice was undertaken with the knowledge and direction of the highest management levels of WestJet and wasn't halted until discovered by Air Canada."

WestJet said it "sincerely regrets having engaged in this practice and unreservedly apologizes to Air Canada and Robert Milton," who is chairman, president and chief executive of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. (ACE.B.T), the holding company parent of Air Canada.

WestJet has also agreed to make a donation of C$10 million in the name of Air Canada and WestJet to children's charities across the country.

The two airlines said all legal proceedings between the parties have been terminated.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 04:36 PM   #473
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Aeroplan devising new way to cash in points
A $20-million computer system will enable better seat choice at higher cost

29 May 2006
The Globe and Mail

The heart of Aeroplan Income Fund's new grid for redeeming rewards will be a $20-million computer system that scrutinizes supply and demand for Air Canada flights before luring consumers to cash in their points.

Rupert Duchesne, Aeroplan's chief executive officer, said the loyalty company is developing the electronic brains behind what it hopes will be a popular new schedule of higher levels of reward miles required to book seats. “It sounds easy, but it's actually a very complex computer program to pick each of those seats out of the Air Canada reservation system, price them and make them available on a grid to the Aeroplan member.”

Unless consumers book months ahead, seats are often frustratingly elusive to reserve under the current reward system, which sets aside 8 per cent of Air Canada seats for the low-cost “Classic” category.

Aeroplan plans to introduce an escalating scale of points by year-end. It will outline how many extra miles are needed to book unsold seats in economy and business class, based on supply and demand, beyond that 8-per-cent limit on Classic rewards. “The project is pretty much exactly on schedule, but we haven't picked a brand name yet. It will be launched some time this fall. The time we need it to work perfectly and be totally in place is January, 2007,” Mr. Duchesne said.

During the first quarter of each year, Aeroplan sees a surge in bookings as consumers plan spring and summer vacations. In the first quarter of 2006, for instance, the volume of redemptions jumped 37 per cent from the final quarter of 2005.

Aeroplan, which holds its annual meeting today in Montreal, disclosed its plans a year ago to provide “unlimited access” to Air Canada seats this fall. The company is now within months of executing on its expansion strategy, running computer models before making final decisions.

A short-haul Toronto-Ottawa flight, under the existing basic Classic redemption level, will still cost 15,000 miles in the new system, while long-haul Vancouver-Toronto service will continue to cost 25,000 miles. Those examples are for the limited number of seats that are only available below the 8-per-cent Classic rewards ceiling.

The higher-cost “Avenue” economy-class rewards category, which currently reserves 7 per cent of Air Canada's seat inventory, will be cancelled. It will be replaced and expanded in a project that's internally code-named “Dynamic” at Aeroplan.

In total, 15 per cent of Air Canada seats are now set aside for Aeroplan members. Analysts forecast that Aeroplan-designated spots could effectively rise to 19 per cent after greater access to flights is granted to consumers by year-end. That means nearly one in five seats on a flight, on average during a month, could be designated for passengers flying on Aeroplan miles.

Avenue bookings in economy class in North America currently require 22,500 miles for short-haul flights and 37,500 miles for long-haul flights. Mr. Duchesne said the new Dynamic scale will likely start at lower figures than those amounts, but higher than the Classic level.

In general, the fuller the plane at the time of advance booking, the deeper consumers would have to dig into their Aeroplan accounts.

“Under Dynamic, it will be a sliding scale, depending on exactly when you book,” Mr. Duchesne said. “Each time we buy a more expensive seat, you have to pay more miles. Say you decide you want to leave this evening for Vancouver from Toronto. You can do it, but it might take twice as many miles than if you booked that six months ago. We're working that out.”

Montreal-based ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., parent company of Air Canada, owns 75.3 per cent of Aeroplan.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 02:41 AM   #474
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That is great news....and I really admire both companies for donating the money to charities
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:47 PM   #475
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Aeroplan LP looks to go global with reward deals
Likely to avoid troubled U.S. carriers Expands in three Canadian directions
Bloomberg news and Canadian Press
30 May 2006

Montreal -- Aeroplan LP, the rewards program for Air Canada, may acquire overseas frequent-flier businesses and customer-loyalty companies to expand internationally, chief executive officer Rupert Duchesne says.

"We will actively consider both a domestic or an international opportunity for growth if one presents itself," Duchesne said yesterday during Aeroplan's first annual unitholders' meeting.

Aeroplan will first focus on adding more partners in Canada before aggressively pursuing overseas expansion, Duchesne said at a news conference later.

Aeroplan, which is 75.3 per cent owned by Air Canada's parent, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., with the rest held by the Aeroplan Income Fund, would consider acquiring "small marketing firms and services in Canada that would help us sell Aeroplan miles to commercial partners," Duchesne said.

The Aeroplan CEO said he would also look at buying other existing loyalty programs.

"We think we're experts in running loyalty programs ... and we can probably do it more efficiently."

Duchesne said the company could also purchase frequent-flier programs and make substantial overhead cost savings.

But he said he would look at other markets around the world that are similar to Canada's, not south to the United States, where several major airlines are in bankruptcy protection and face further cost cutting and streamlining.

"I think it's rather unlikely we would look at airline programs in the U.S. because the industry is still going through a substantial restructuring," he said.

Aeroplan also announced three new loyalty programs yesterday with XM Canada, insurer ING Canada Inc. and CorporationCentre.ca.

XM Canada, which calls itself Canada's leading satellite-radio provider, has signed a multiyear deal to allow subscribers to earn Aeroplan travel "miles" starting in June 1, the companies said in a release.

The travel credits are available through radio hardware packages. Offers are based on the package selected and a one-year service agreement.

"Partnering with Aeroplan is one of the ways XM Canada intends to deliver premium services to our subscribers and stoke aggressive growth in the Canadian market," said Stephen Tapp, XM Canada president and chief operating officer.

Aeroplan also announced it has an agreement with ING Canada to offer Aeroplan Miles on certain insurance products offered by the company's insurance subsidiaries. That agreement takes effect in September.

Adding Aeroplan miles to a "fairly normal financial product can make a big difference in customer loyalty," Duchesne said.

The third agreement involves CorporationCentre.ca, which calls itself Canada's leader in the online incorporation and corporate maintenance service industry for small and mid-sized businesses. The company has started offering Aeroplan reward credits on select small business startup services.

Duchesne also expressed satisfaction with the performance of Aeroplan since it made its debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange almost a year ago.

He said the company made some fairly aggressive declarations when it went public in the middle of last year.

"We said there would be two or three significant partner announcements by the middle of this year and, touch wood, we're pretty much on track for that," Duchesne said.

"We've probably delivered pretty much what we said we would.

"We've appreciated roughly 30 per cent in a year since our issue, and I think that's pretty good performance."

Aeroplan members earn rewards through the company's network of more than 60 partners in the financial, retail and travel sectors.
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Old June 4th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #476
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Milton lets Air Canada soar again: Turnaround
Chris Sorensen
3 June 2006
National Post

It's not often an airline CEO gets to tell his competitors what to do. It's even rarer for one to ask for -- and receive -- a public apology.

And yet, that's exactly what Robert Milton, the chief executive of Air Canada's parent, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., managed to secure this week: WestJet Airlines Ltd. apologized for its "unethical and unacceptable" behaviour in a bid to end a $220-million lawsuit stemming from its campaign of Internet snooping.

It was the latest in a recent string of personal and professional victories for Mr. Milton, leaving some to speculate he may be composing the final verses of his swan song at Air Canada.

"He's not only turned the air carrier around and broke all kinds of new ground," but he got his arch-rival to admit wrongdoing and say sorry in a very public way, said Rick Erickson, a Calgary-based aviation consultant.

To leave now, some observers say, would be analogous to an athlete leaving at the top of his game or an actor making the decision pull the plug on a hit sitcom-- Seinfeld comes to mind -- while audiences are still salivating for new episodes.

Mr. Milton, 45, has already said he plans to make his exit "sooner rather than later" because the job is no longer as fun as it once was, although he has not let on when he may actually step down.

His list of achievements since taking Air Canada's helm in 1999 are impressive. In just over six years he has managed to thwart a hostile takeover attempt, orchestrate a difficult merger with the former Canadian Airlines and then shepherd Air Canada through the aftermath of 9/11 and SARS, as well as the company's court-protected restructuring.

While he can be fairly criticized for flying the airline into bankruptcy in the first place, there is little doubt Air Canada emerged a much stronger and more formidable competitor then it was. It has since raised hundred of millions from the partial spin-offs of its Aeroplan loyalty program and regional carrier Jazz and is in the midst of overhauling its fleet to make itself a more viable international carrier.

Of course, Mr. Milton would likely be the first to acknowledge that his current perch is an incredibly fragile one given the notoriously turbulent industry in which Air Canada operates. There will always be another hurricane that pushes up fuel prices or another upstart competitor that threatens to depress margins with lower fares.

There are also legitimate questions about whether Air Canada's most serious problems have actually been fixed.

"A lot of the surface issues have changed and there have been a few small victories," said Marc-David Seidel, a business professor at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. "But in terms of fundamental changes, there is still a lot of work that Air Canada needs to do be a competitive international carrier."

Building up international routes, improving customer service and further lowering costs are key challenges for the airline, Mr. Seidel said.

That's particularly the case as Air Canada faces the prospect of competing with newly restructured U.S. airlines on international routes and, eventually, in the North American market as Canada and the United States gradually move toward a true open skies model.

In fact, sources familiar with Air Canada's business warn that the airline's cost structure, though much lower than it was prior to its restructuring, is still too high to make its business sustainable over the long-term.

Karl Moore, a business professor at McGill University, said he believes Mr. Milton is likely to stick around to oversee the spin-off of the airline's maintenance unit, scheduled to take place some time next year, and perhaps even an IPO of the airline itself.

"Air Canada will be a big part of his legacy, but I don't get the sense that he's preoccupied with that right now," Mr. Moore said.

Perhaps more important is for Mr. Milton to ensure that Air Canada will be left in capable hands when he finally does decide fly off into the sunset -- something that appears to have already been taken care of with the hiring of Montie Brewer, now Air Canada's CEO, in 2002 and last year's decision to bring aboard Brian Dunne, formerly of Aer Lingus, to act as ACE's chief financial officer.

"The game is never over," Mr. Moore said. "Air Canada is never going to be able to package everything up and tie a ribbon on it and say, 'We're good for the next 20 years.' "
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Old June 10th, 2006, 10:11 PM   #477
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Airline tightens carry-on limits
Air Canada seeks to reduce fuel cost
Emphasis will be on Asian routes

Rick Westhead
Toronto Star
10 June 2006

Air Canada is imposing stricter new weight limits on passengers' carry-on luggage.

Like every carrier, Air Canada is battling to pare costs as the price of jet fuel has skyrocketed in recent months. In an effort to lighten each plane's load, the airline has tried measures ranging from dumping empty wine bottles in the middle of a round trip and, in one high profile experiment, even stripped paint off the fuselage of one plane.

With the busy summer flying season now at hand, the ACE Aviation Ltd. unit has shifted its gaze to the check-in counter.

In a memo sent this week to employees, Air Canada president Montie Brewer wrote that this month Air Canada would introduce policy changes including one that will limit passengers from bringing more than two bags each weighing no more than 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms) on any flight. (Routes to Japan and Brazil will be exempt, while the airline said it will stress enforcement of limits on Asian flights.)

"One area where we all need to make a better effort at standardizing our policy is the enforcement of carry-on baggage policy for size, weight, quantity, whether verifying our customers' bags or when travelling ourselves," Brewer wrote. "June is a transition period, for our customers and for us, where we get used to and train ourselves to the reality of simplifying the way we do business in a high-cost environment."

Brewer also cited a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted for the company that said the airline's process for boarding and removing luggage is showing signs of improvement. "Baggage handling is one area we've been struggling with and where we need to continually focus on to improve our track record," Brewer wrote.

Air Canada may be under more scrutiny to cut fuel costs in recent days. When the carrier recently raised fuel surcharges, rival airline WestJet Airlines Ltd. didn't follow suit.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 10:51 PM   #478
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I'm going to Europe and is forced to take Air Canada (actually booked at SAS but "operated by Air Canada"). I plan to only bring a backpack which I know can easily fit into WESTJet's overhead compartments. Air Canada better allow me to bring that backpack as a carry on because they are so famous for loosing luggages....
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Old June 15th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #479
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Air Canada chief says better service behind rebound
Best outlook in 15 years, Milton says
Calls flexibility key to turnaround

Canadian Press
15 June 2006

New York -- After emerging from bankruptcy-court shelter last year, Air Canada is thriving where so many other airlines have failed by giving customers what they want, says Robert Milton, chairman and CEO of parent company ACE Aviation Holdings.

"I've been at this 15 years and I do not remember a revenue picture like this over that period," Milton told the Merrill Lynch Global Transportation Conference.

The airline has been able to meet the competition head-on by providing customers the flexibility to select the fare and services that meet their needs, he said.

A simplified company website shows customers various fare options, he noted. They can then personalize their flights by purchasing food, or saving if they have no luggage.

Milton said the company plans to continue offering new ticketing options, such as multi-flight passes and unlimited travel to certain destinations, in an effort to lure customers away from the websites of wholesalers and travel competitors.

By upgrading its fleet, Air Canada will provide customers with individualized video entertainment options and direct service to new destinations.

Asked about his own future, the CEO said there are still things he wants to complete before he flies into the sunset and leaves the airline.

"You don't go on doing this forever and forever," said Milton, who has been with the airline since 1992.
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Old June 17th, 2006, 12:36 AM   #480
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Air Canada Refurbishing pictures thread

Here is the first A320 getting its refurbishments. It will be done before the end of this month.

A320s


http://www.achorizons.ca/en/issues/2...il/extreme.htm

B767s

http://www.achorizons.ca/en/issues/2...XM_Project.htm

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