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Old November 6th, 2007, 06:46 PM   #721
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Air Canada says flew fuller planes in October

TORONTO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Air Canada , the country's biggest airline, said on Tuesday its planes flew slightly fuller in October, while WestJet , its main competitor, logged another record month for traffic.

Air Canada said its load factor, a measure of available space on its planes sold to passengers, rose to 79.1 percent, up slightly from 79.0 percent last October.

Capacity for the month, measured in available seat miles, rose 2.7 percent to 4.675 billion. Air Canada said it sold 3.7 billion seat miles to customers, a 2.8 percent increase over October 2006.

Calgary, Alberta-based WestJet posted its tenth consecutive month of record numbers, the company said on Tuesday.

The discount carrier sold 995.4 million seat miles to passengers in October, an increase of 20.5 percent from the same month last year.

WestJet said its capacity for the month increased by 15.6 percent to 1.275 billion available seats, accompanied by a record October load factor of 78.1 percent, 3.2 percentage points higher than last year.

Traffic figures for Air Canada's regional affiliate, Jazz Air LP , show that the airline flew 2.0 percent more revenue passenger miles in October 2007 than in October 2006, Capacity decreased by 0.4 percent, resulting in a load factor of 74.2 percent, compared with 72.5 percent in October 2006.

Air Canada said the consolidated load factor of 78.6 percent for both the mainline and regional carriers was "the highest ever for the month."

Traffic grew in all markets except Pacific routes, where it fell 4.6 percent from a year earlier, Air Canada said.

Air Canada A shares were flat at C$17.00 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Jazz Air units rose 20 Canadian cents, or 2.6 percent, to C$7.95. WestJet shares rose 11 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, to C$19.94.

($1=$0.92 Canadian) (Reporting by Stefanie Kranjec; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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Old November 6th, 2007, 06:48 PM   #722
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WestJet Reports Record Oct Load Factor Of 78.1%
6 November 2007
Dow Jones Newswires

WestJet Inc. (WJA.T) had a record October load factor of 78.1%, up from 74.9% a year earlier.

The Calgary airline's capacity increased to 1.28 billion available seat miles from 1.10 billion, while traffic rose 21% to 995.4 million revenue passenger miles.

It said that as it enters the fourth quarter, the demand for its new Caribbean and Mexican destinations is "exceeding expectations."
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Old November 10th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #723
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ACE Aviation profit soars on Air Canada performance
Carrier's earnings hit a record but stock falls after parent ACE signals it won't buy back shares

Toronto Star
10 November 2007

Air Canada executives are having a difficult time persuading investors the country's largest airline has a bright future ahead.

The carrier reported a record third-quarter operating profit, up 51 per cent to $351 million. Still, the shares fell 12 per cent to close at $14.53, down $1.97, on the Toronto Stock Exchange, albeit amid a broader market rout and mounting concerns about the impact of soaring fuel prices on the entire industry.

Also contributing to the stock's slide, analysts said, was an indication that parent ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. won't buy back Air Canada shares as the parent winds itself up over the next six months.

"I think we've established a pattern of distributing and selling into the market, and we're happy with what we've seen so far," Robert Milton, ACE's chief executive, told analysts during a conference call. "So, from the standpoint of preference, we'd like to keep going."

In recent months, ACE has sold most of its interest in the Aeroplan loyalty program and regional carrier Jazz, becoming a minority investor in both companies. ACE has also divested 77 per cent of its interest in ACTS, Air Canada's former maintenance arm, through a sale to private investors. But Air Canada has been a tougher sell.

Milton, who is stepping down from the boards of Air Canada, Aeroplan and Jazz, has long expressed frustration with the airline's valuation by investors. The problem first emerged after Aeroplan and Jazz were spun off as income trusts in 2005, raising millions. At the time, analysts calculated that the country's largest airline was effectively being given a valuation of zero in ACE's overall share price.

ACE responded by selling a minority stake in Air Canada through an initial public offering last year. The shares have yet to trade above their issue price of $21.

Jacques Kavafian, an analyst at Research Capital, said investors probably hoped ACE would buy back shares instead of selling or distributing them into an unenthusiastic market.

Milton, on the other hand, appears to be betting on the airline's ability to string together a few more strong quarterly performances.

"We'd like to see the market start to recognize that the airline is functioning as (chief executive officer Montie Brewer) has advertised."

Air Canada took an important step in that direction yesterday by posting third-quarter earnings of $273 million, or $2.73 a share, compared with a mere $44 million, or 50 cents, in the third quarter of 2006. The results, however, aren't directly comparable because of ACE's decision to "deconsolidate" regional carrier Jazz.

ACE, meanwhile, reported third-quarter profit of $224 million, or $1.84, compared with $103 million, or 95 cents.
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Old November 13th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #724
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Air Canada spinoff plan fuels selloff
13 November 2007
The Globe and Mail

Air Canada shares came under pressure yesterday as investors digested news of a slim chance of a stock buyback program by its parent company, overshadowing the airline's stellar results in the third quarter.

The selloff follows Friday's announcement by ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., which owns 75 per cent of Air Canada, that it plans to spin off its remaining interest in the airline by mid-2008.

Investors who got in early after ACE shares were created in September, 2004, have done well in doubling their original ACE investment, factoring in special payouts of Aeroplan Income Fund and Jazz Air Income Fund, plus monthly trust distributions.

But for investors who bought Air Canada's initial public offering at $21 a share in November, 2006, their best hope to approach a break-even level would be a buyback at a premium price offered by ACE.

Air Canada shares hit a post-IPO low of $10.10 in mid-August, but then surged as high as $17.40 early last week, fuelled largely by speculation that Montreal-based ACE favoured repurchasing the 25-per-cent stake in Air Canada that it doesn't already own.

ACE chief executive officer Robert Milton, however, played down the buyback rumours on Friday, saying during a third-quarter conference call that he prefers to stick with the trend of spinning off stakes in ACE's subsidiaries.

Air Canada class B shares, which fell 12 per cent Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, dropped another 4 per cent yesterday.

Some analysts believe that with the stock's latest slump, there could be a good buying opportunity, given the scant attention paid so far to Air Canada's third-quarter profit climbing to $273-million from $44-million a year earlier.

TD Newcrest analyst Brian Morrison is bullish, raising his 12-month target price for Air Canada to $24 from $20. Mr. Morrison and UBS Securities Inc. analyst Fadi Chamoun are still hoping ACE could have a change of heart and repurchase Air Canada stock as ACE winds down.

Some analysts who expressed pessimism in the past delivered selective praise. Ben Cherniavsky of Raymond James Ltd. raised his six- to-12-month target price on the airline to $13.50 from $10.25.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 01:17 PM   #725
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#TS | Air Transat

Air Transat shops for new fleet
14 November 2007
The Globe and Mail



Transat A.T. Inc. plans to replace its fleet of aging Airbus planes, entering talks with both Airbus SAS and rival Boeing Co.

The Montreal-based tour operator currently operates four 362-seat Airbus A330s and a dozen 259-seat A310s, but is seeking to drop those planes, which have an average age of nearly 15 years, in favour of a single-model fleet.

Transat's subsidiary, Air Transat, has its eye on the Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide-body) and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Air Transat chief executive officer Allen Graham said in an interview yesterday.

“I would love to have one fleet type to do all the missions,” Mr. Graham said.

He said Transat would reap the benefits by switching to newer planes because they will be more fuel-efficient, and the use of only one model would reduce maintenance costs. Under one scenario, Transat's A310s could be phased out by 2012. The Airbus A350 is slated to enter service in 2013.

Transat expects to choose between European-based Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing in late 2008 or early 2009, with plans to buy some planes but likely lease the majority.

Other aircraft on Transat's shortlist include the Boeing 767 and a reconfigured A330 that would have fewer than 300 seats because that is the top range of passenger capacity being targeted in future. “Both Boeing and Airbus are pitching new and used planes to us,” Mr. Graham said.

On potential new competitors, he said Transat is taking a wait-and-see attitude on NewAir & Tours, a fledgling firm backed by four former WestJet Airlines Ltd. executives. Calgary-based NewAir's Nov. 6 licence application says it plans to use McDonnell Douglas MD-80s as the initial platform for launch, but sources say Boeing 737s could enter the picture, too.

In a shorter-term retrofit, Transat intends to create more legroom on its existing planes by removing some seats in mid-2008.

Mr. Graham added that Transat is weathering red-hot jet fuel prices, having successfully hedged most of its winter fuel requirements at lower costs. But he remains concerned about high landing fees at Canadian airports and security charges.

He made the comments on the eve of Transat's 20th anniversary today. The parent company's chairman and CEO, Jean-Marc Eustache, co-founded the tour operator with Philippe Sureau and Lina De Cesare, who are senior Transat managers.

The first flight departed Montreal for Acapulco on Nov. 14, 1987.

“After 20 years, we are used to the intense competition that continues to prevail in the travel industry,” Mr. Eustache said. TRZ.B (TSX) fell 34 cents to $40.16.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 03:46 PM   #726
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Air Transat celebrates 20th anniversary by not straying from winning formula
13 November 2007
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL _ Transat A.T. (TSX:TRZ.B) has survived 20 years of turbulence in Canada's aviation business by sticking to a winning formula that caters to the charter market, says the head of the company's airline Air Transat.

"We've pretty much stuck to our knitting and instead of trying to be all things to all people we have really focused on being the leisure experts in Canada," Allen Graham, president and CEO of the airline told The Canadian Press.

Air Transat celebrates a milestone Wednesday that few have reached.

Two decades after 360 passengers left Montreal on the airline's maiden flight to Acapulco, Air Transat has added destinations, changed its fleet types and added airplanes.

But it has never wavered from its mission to serve vacationers, Graham said from Miami where had watched the winless Dolphins lose to the Buffalo Bills.

"We decided that our niche was the leisure niche and we focused on it and we've become experts at it."

It primarily offers package vacations and seasonal flights to sun destinations in the winter and Europe in the summer.

Unlike Wardair, the pioneer of Canada's chartered airline business, Air Transat has never ventured into the highly competitive market of scheduled service.

Other failed charter airlines include Nationair, Canada 3000, Royal Aviation and Worldways Canada.

Some charters have succeeded by changing their business model. CanJet has ended its scheduled service to focus on the charter business.

But Graham said Air Transat is unique in North America, as a vertically integrated company. Around the world, others that use a similar model are the Tui Group and Thomas Cook.

Since 1987, 35 million passengers have flown Air Transat's blue and white aircraft. In 2007, some 2,000 employees will oversee about 12,000 flights departing from every region of the country.

Its fleet of 16 Airbus A330s and A310s carry 2.6 million passengers to nearly 60 destinations in 25 countries.

It is looking to upgrade its fleet of aircraft in 2011 or 2012 with more modern planes that enable the addition of new destinations, possibly in Asia or South America.

"Asia definitely is something we will consider by 2012," Graham said.

Transat A.T., which includes Air Transat , Air Transat Holidays and Nolitours, earned $65.8 million last year, or $1.58 per share, on $2.6 billion in revenues.

The vacation industry has changed in 20 years as Canadians have increasingly travelled abroad and the Internet has altered the way people book flights.

From a business perspective, rising fuel costs, increased security and higher airport landing fees have posed the greatest financial challenge.

"Even when times are good you've still got to be managing your costs every single day, 365 days a year," Graham said.

While future acquisitions are likely, he said the airline will stick to managed and profitable growth. It will add one airplane a year and perhaps one to three new destinations.

"We are No. 1 in Canada and we will continue to be No. 1 in Canada and we're going to continue to grow at our pace."

Analyst Jacques Kavafian said Transat's strengths have been managing its business, avoiding stupid acquisitions and not growing too fast.

"Transat has always been a well planned, well-managed, conservative company," Kavafian of Research Capital Corp. said in an interview.

He said the airline has been smart enough to park its fleet during weekdays and focus on the profitable weekend charter business.

Transat's success could, however, make it a target for a takeover, Kavafian said.

"Transat generates lots of free cash so when you do that you become attractive to private equity firms."

Transat shares lost 34 cents to $40.16 in trading Tuesday.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #727
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Air Canada in no great hurry to acquire world's largest plane
The Canadian Press
13 November 2007

MONTREAL

Air Canada doesn't appear to be in any hurry to pick up the world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380.

The mammoth aircraft, which is as tall as a seven-storey building and can carry 853 passengers, landed yesterday at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on a promotional visit.

But Philippe Jarry, the head of market development for Airbus, admitted the aircraft doesn't appear to be a priority for Air Canada.

"Their fleet focus has been towards smaller airplanes,'' he told reporters at an airport news conference.

"They bought lots of A330s, A340s and the ( Boeing) 787 . . . we will probably have to wait for their next investment phase.''

But Jarry added that Air Canada might have to reassess the situation when foreign operators start bringing the A380 into Montreal.

The Airbus had its first commercial flight last month, when it flew from Singapore to Sydney.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Jarry also said the giant aircraft is cleared to land in Toronto and Vancouver.

"I'm sure that airports like Winnipeg and Calgary could eventually consider it as well,'' he said.

"One of the main design criteria was for the A380 to use the same runways as the 747 and, by the way, we land at a much lower speed than the 747 . . . so we need less runway."

The plane's European manufacturer, Airbus SAS, says the A380 is the most fuel-efficient and quietest passenger jet ever built.

The A380, which leaves Montreal for Florida later today, first landed in Canada in February 2006 when it spent time in Iqaluit for cold-weather testing.
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Old November 14th, 2007, 04:41 PM   #728
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Upstart Newair Hopes To Take Flight In Fall Of 2008, Founders Say
14 November 2007
National Post

The upstart Calgary-based airline tentatively named NewAir expects to the take the sky in the fall of 2008, according to the former WestJet Airlines Ltd. executives behind the effort. Tim Morgan, William Lamberton, and Alan Mann confirmed yesterday in an interview that the airline will be looking to fly from "unserved and under serviced" markets in Canada and the United States after securing a second round of financing, which they hope to have in place by the end of January, 2008. Another former WestJet executive, Gareth Davies, is also involved in the project. The plan calls for the airline to use MD-80s or Boeing 737s to service those markets and is based on Las Vegas-based tour operator Allegiant Travel Co. NewAir applied for a licence for both scheduled and non-scheduled service in the U.S. and Canada last week, but Mr. Morgan stressed many of the details are still being ironed out, including specifically which routes will be served.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 04:55 PM   #729
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Air Canada takes direct approach
16 November 2007
The Australian

The carrier's new non-stop flights are an attractive alternative for Australian travellers heading to North America

AIR Canada will pitch Vancouver as an alternative gateway to the US when it starts its first non-stop services next month.

The new daily flights will initially feature 777-300ER services before the airline switches to a 777-200LR early next year because of payload restrictions on the bigger plane.

The service features Air Canada's new premium and economy class products with business class sleeper seats, more comfortable economy seats as well as video on-demand and power points in all classes.

Going non-stop will shave more than three hours off the flight time and also overcomes an irksome requirement that even transit passengers in Hawaii, the airline's previous technical stopover, pass through US immigration.

The Canadian carrier expects aresponse to its new service thatwill allow it to increase services beyond the current daily frequency.

``The potential we see as great because it's not only a dramatically improved product to Canada but with the changes at the Vancouver airport and all of the growth we've had in Vancouver, it's also a good gateway to get into the rest of Canada and North America,'' Air Canada president and chief executive Montie Brewer said in Sydney yesterday.

``As you come into Vancouver you can go straight through US customs and not have to go through Canadian customs. So it's no different than connecting in any US airport except that it's nicer and you've got a great product going up there.''

The airline hopes the lure of avoiding the horrors of the US airline system will attract business as well as leisure travellers.

Mr Brewer said a big difference on Air Canada was that cabin features such as on-demand video and in-seat power points would by next year be on all of the airline's fleet, including its narrow body aircraft.

``So you really have an international product all the way through to your final destination, be it New York, be it Toronto, be it Montreal, Calgary, San Francisco,'' he said. ``When you compare travel within North America, we're the only international-standard product.''

Air Canada is also of interest to Australians because its decision to spin off its frequent flyer program, Airplan, is seen as a possible template for changes to the Qantas loyalty scheme.

Mr Brewer said Airplan spin-off had allowed both companies to thrive and grow.

``From the airline's standpoint it's worked extremely well,'' he said. ``It really has allowed the frequent flyer or the loyalty company to grow.

``And as they grow the airline gets the benefit in terms of the customers they have are more likely to fly Air Canada.''

The airline has also been innovative with its pricing structures, offering all its seats at low fares and encouraging premium customers to pay more for extras such as added flexibility, access to additional miles and food.

Mr Brewer said this made its pricing transparent and gave both premium and leisure customers what they wanted. He said the move had been revolutionary in North America and had allowed a higher-cost carrier to continue to survive in a low-cost market.

``In the past we would have ... taken the low fare off the market as we got closer to departure and force people to buy up,'' Mr Brewer said.

``Now we have to get people to willingly buy up, and they are.

``Forty six per cent of our domestic customers up to this point in this year willingly bought a higher fare, even though a lower fare was available, because they know what the value of that higher fare is.''

The airline is also experimenting with pass and subscription products that allow customers to pay a flat fee and travel as much as they want in a month.

He said about 4 per cent of Air Canada's North American customers were using the products, which tended to be more expensive than average fares but gave passengers the convenience of being able to change flights easily and quickly without extra charges.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 12:42 PM   #730
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Ottawa needs tourism plan: Transat CEO
Toronto Star
November 16, 2007

The country's besieged tourism sector is at risk of missing out on a boom in international travel because of Ottawa's "complacent" attitude toward the industry and a willingness to treat airlines and their passengers "like an ATM," warns the head of the country's largest tour operator.

Jean-Marc Eustache, the CEO of Montreal-based Transat AT Inc., which sells packaged holidays both to and from Canada, said policy makers and much of the business community view the country's $67 billion tourism industry as an "economic sideline" despite the fact that it represents a key growth opportunity for the economy.

"Virtually all countries are seeing a rise in the number of their visitors," Eustache said during a speech yesterday to the Economic Club of Toronto.

"But Canada is not invited to the party. At home, international tourism is declining. No other country in the Americas shares that same fate."

He cited statistics by the World Tourism Organization that showed the number of international tourists to Canada was down by more than 2 per cent in 2005, 2.8 per cent in 2006 (according to preliminary data) and expected to be down again for 2007. Regaining the lost ground should be a "top priority," according to Eustache.

While Canada has seen a rise in the number of tourists visiting from overseas countries in recent years, the gains are not enough to offset a continued decline in the number of American visitors, which has historically been Canada's largest single source of inbound tourists.

The forces keeping U.S. visitors at home are well documented. They include the soaring value of the Canadian loonie (coupled with the weakening American greenback), post-9/11 security increases at the border, confusion over new U.S. passport rules and mounting competition from rival destinations in the United States and overseas.

As well, Eustache suggested that Canada no longer "seems to click" with Americans, a phenomenon he attributed to an over-reliance on one-note marketing messages south of the border.

"Canada was always lakes, Mounties and moose. But now we have to promote Canada like we do Toronto, a vibrant city where something is going on."

In addition to spending more money on promotion, Eustache said, marketing efforts need to be "segmented," meaning they target specific groups within a foreign country.

Closer to home, Eustache said the federal government needs to help industry become more competitive on a global scale by rolling back the taxes levied on airlines and their passengers.

In particular, he criticized Ottawa's airport rent scheme for contributing to Toronto Pearson International Airport's dubious status as one of the world's most expensive for airlines to operate. He said Transat shells out $11,000 every time it lands a plane in Toronto compared to $3,500 to touch down in Paris.

He also expressed concern about high security fees for air travellers, pointing to a recent audit that showed the federal government took in an extra $77 million from the fee in 2005.

"Air travellers cannot be faulted for feeling like an ATM for Ottawa," he said.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #731
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Computer glitch grounds Air Canada flights
Updated Fri. Nov. 16 2007 7:52 AM ET

toronto.ctv.ca

Air Canada is warning passengers departing from Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday that a computer glitch is causing severe delays.

"Air Canada is currently experiencing technical difficulties with a computer system which will likely result in some flight delays," the carrier's website read Friday morning.

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority reports the airline has failed to check in any passengers after 4:30 a.m.

Most other airlines departing from Canada's busiest airport are not affected by the technical problems.

Travellers scheduled to depart on Air Canada flights are urged to call ahead for flight times.


Updated Fri. Nov. 16 2007 7:52 AM ET

toronto.ctv.ca

Air Canada is warning passengers departing from Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday that a computer glitch is causing severe delays.

"Air Canada is currently experiencing technical difficulties with a computer system which will likely result in some flight delays," the carrier's website read Friday morning.

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority reports the airline has failed to check in any passengers after 4:30 a.m.

Most other airlines departing from Canada's busiest airport are not affected by the technical problems.

Travellers scheduled to depart on Air Canada flights are urged to call ahead for flight times.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 08:41 PM   #732
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Air Canada computer glitch resolved
Updated Fri. Nov. 16 2007 12:25 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff





Air Canada has resolved a computer glitch that delayed passengers nationwide for several hours during peak travel time on Friday.

"Air Canada advises that the technical difficulties experienced with its computer system earlier today have now been resolved and that the operation is returning to normal," the carrier's website read.

Flights across the country were on standby and had been delayed since 4:30 a.m.; however, no flights were cancelled.

But while flights are running across the country, there are still delays because of the backlog of passengers, which Air Canada says should be cleared up within a few hours.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CTV.ca that he couldn't speculate on what specifically caused the glitch.

"We really haven't had time for a post-mortem because the people that know are busy working on it. The priority is to get the system restored and get our passengers moved," he said.

The system-wide problem affected flights travelling to international destinations, along with domestic travel, with the primary impact experienced at Toronto's Pearson International Airport during the peak morning hours.

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada anticipates all passengers will be accommodated Friday.

Airport backlog

Peter Spurway, vice-president of corporate communications at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, said the problem, which was initially reported in Toronto, affected airports nationwide.

"It's the old story, when Toronto sneezes, the rest of us get a cold," Spurway told CTV.ca from Halifax.

"If Toronto has issues it ripples right across the country. They are the major domestic hub in the country."

Most other airlines departing from Canada's busiest airport were not affected by the technical problems.

Trish Krale of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority said security was not compromised because of the computer problem and that the GTAA had extra staff on hand to assist with "crowd control."

Scott Armstrong of the GTAA told CTV Newsnet on Friday that the glitch could pose a significant backlog throughout the day as long lines of delayed passengers snaked around the airport.

"The thing to keep in mind, like any utility, you don't just flip a switch and the schedule goes back to normal," Armstrong said from Pearson Airport.

"We've got a six-hour backlog to deal with; we'll have to work through it systematically."

The GTAA is handed out bottled water to passengers waiting in long lines. Armstrong said the majority of travellers were waiting patiently.

"Obviously there will be a few upset people, that's not in question, but in this situation we can make the best of it," he said.
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Old November 17th, 2007, 04:16 PM   #733
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Air Canada leases additional Boeing 777-300ER to continue wide-body fleet renewal and modernization

MONTREAL, Nov. 16 /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 continue its wide-body fleet renewal and modernization program.

Air Canada will take delivery of the leased aircraft in April 2009, bringing to 18 the total number of Boeing 777s entering the fleet. The transaction is part of an ongoing fleet renewal program that will give Air Canada one of the most modern and comfortable aircraft fleets in the world and provide savings on fuel, expanded range capabilities and other efficiencies.

Air Canada has concluded agreements with Boeing for the acquisition of up to 34 Boeing 777s and up to 60 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The agreements include firm orders for 16 Boeing 777s, plus purchase rights for 18 more. The agreements also include firm orders for 37 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, plus
options for an additional 23 aircraft. In addition, Air Canada previously entered into a lease with International Lease Finance Corporation for the lease of one Boeing 777 aircraft.

To date, Air Canada has taken delivery of five 777-300ER aircraft and two 777-200LR aircraft, and is the first North American carrier to operate these aircraft types. Air Canada's first 787 is scheduled for delivery in 2010.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 05:27 AM   #734
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Air Canada reservations glitch creates delays for 96,000 passengers
17 November 2007
The Globe and Mail

Air Canada officials spent yesterday trying to find the cause of a massive network failure that brought down the company's reservation system, grounding flights and delaying thousands of weekend travellers at airports across Canada and around the world.

Around 4 a.m., Air Canada's operations ground to a halt when its central reservation system experienced a communication error with computer systems at Canadian airports. It was several hours before the airline was able to rectify the problem, resulting in the cancellation of eight round-trip flights and lengthy delays for an estimated 96,000 passengers as employees had to process boarding passes manually.

Although Air Canada pegged the average delay at 40 minutes, many travellers said they were left waiting for hours. By yesterday afternoon, some were still languishing in lineups, while Air Canada struggled to expedite the backlog, predicting everyone would reach their destinations before the day was over. Meanwhile, company officials tried to figure out what went wrong.

“The people who are involved with this are busy getting it fixed and I think the time for postmortems will come later,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said. “It's a man-made thing so every now and then it's going to have a problem. When you handle as many people a day as we do and you have a problem, it affects a lot of people.”

Air Canada's reservation software is called RES III and is based on 30-year-old technology originally developed by British Airways. RES III is a derivative of a program called Babs, which is no longer in use by the British airline, but is similar to systems still employed by many U.S. carriers.

“It's been quite reliable,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said of the RES III system. “We haven't had issues like this very often.”

Last year, Air Canada announced it had hired a U.S. firm to develop a new Web-based reservation system, dubbed Polaris, as part of a company-wide makeover. The new system is “expected to generate productivity improvement in call centres, airport check-in and revenue accounting,” according to Air Canada's 2006 annual report.

Although Air Canada had originally planned to begin implementing Polaris toward the end of 2007, Mr. Fitzpatrick said it wouldn't be rolled out until next year.

At Pearson International Airport in Toronto, passenger Michelle Koerner and her two children put their travel plans to West Palm Beach, Fla., on hold when she heard her 8:40 a.m. flight had been delayed.

“My baby is 10 months old. It's tough for people travelling with kids,” she said.

She knew something was wrong when she noticed camera crews and a lineup beginning at Terminal 1.

“It went from international boarding all the way to the Starbucks at the end of the building and then back around. I've never seen anything like this. There must have been a thousand people in line,” she said.

Howard Simons, a passenger from Cambridge, Ont., whose 8:40 a.m. flight to Houston for a business trip was delayed, said he was worried about a different inconvenience.

“I'm an Orthodox Jew. My Sabbath starts tonight. That means I can't take a cab. I can't travel. I can't buy anything.”

Air Canada experienced a similar embarrassing malfunction in October, 2004, when its system went down for 45 minutes the day after unveiling new uniforms, newly designed planes and a promotional partnership with singer Celine Dion.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 12:26 PM   #735
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WestJet seeks deal with Air France
Strategic partnership would intensify Calgary airline's rivalry with Air Canada in Montreal firm's backyard

19 November 2007
The Globe and Mail

PARIS -- WestJet Airlines Ltd. is holding talks with Air France to forge a strategic partnership that would give new ammunition to the Calgary-based carrier, intensifying the battle against Air Canada in its own Quebec backyard.

The negotiations are aimed at reaching an “interline” pact, with Air France and WestJet likely to co-operate on services such as baggage transfer, saving time for passengers on connecting flights, industry sources say.

Details are being ironed out to first clear the way for WestJet to accept inbound Air France electronic tickets by mid-2008. Air France would accept outbound WestJet e-tickets by the end of 2008. The outbound arrangement means Canadian consumers could eventually book a flight to Paris through WestJet, with Air France getting part of the fare revenue after the French carrier flies passengers overseas.

For WestJet, founded in 1996 as a carrier that focused solely on the West, an alliance with Air France will bolster efforts to woo connecting passengers away from Air Canada in its home base in Montreal. WestJet, which added Montreal to its route network in 2003, is gearing up to start service to Quebec City in late 2008 or early 2009, sources say.

Air Canada has long had an extensive presence in Alberta. WestJet is gradually mounting a counter-offensive to target Quebec. It now has 425 bilingual flight attendants, up from 330 earlier this year.

The Air France-WestJet partnership is expected to mark the start of a series of breakthroughs, as WestJet seeks to sign more co-operation deals with foreign carriers, notably Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and British Airways PLC.

Air France merged with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in 2004, but the two carriers still fly under their own banners.

Air France showed its hospitality when it welcomed WestJet executives aboard a Friday demonstration flight of a packed 519-seat Airbus A380 double-decker plane from Montreal to Paris.

Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet executive vice-president of commercial distribution, took the special six-hour A380 flight with Duncan Bureau, WestJet vice-president of sales, and Ferio Pugliese, WestJet executive vice-president of people (human resources). The three men were among 12 guests invited to enjoy the superjumbo's first-class section.

Air France and WestJet declined to give details on this past weekend's talks in Paris, where Air France chief operating officer Pierre-Henri Gourgeon joined discussions.

But Mr. Dunleavy confirmed in an interview yesterday in Paris that WestJet's “discussions with Air France have been very positive, and there is a strong desire by both airlines to move ahead on an interline traffic agreement. WestJet is entering and implementing interline in a measured and quality way.”

He said WestJet will announce “substantive airline partners” in 2008, adding that “WestJet's brand equity and growth plans bring a lot to the table for prospective partners.”

WestJet is quietly enjoying the fruits of a low-profile interline pact with China Airlines of Taiwan, he pointed out. “Check-in, baggage handling and airport operations have been working smoothly,” Mr. Dunleavy said.

Christian Herzog, Air France vice-president of the Americas, said in an interview that no WestJet-Air France deal has been inked yet, but “Canada is an important market for us. WestJet would be a good partner.”

Christian Lahccen, Air France vice-president for Canada, expressed regard for WestJet's growing network, a sign of “an excellent company.”

WestJet will initially benefit by attracting Air France passengers arriving in Montreal and Toronto, but who want to connect to other cities, said Michael Merrithew, chief executive officer of Toronto-based tour operator Merit Travel Group Inc.

Mr. Merrithew was among a group of about 50 tour operators and other officials from the travel industry aboard the A380, at the invitation of Air France and airline manufacturer Airbus SAS.

There had been speculation that WestJet was favouring partnerships with the Oneworld alliance that includes Cathay and British Airways. Some observers say that a WestJet-Air France partnership might seem like strange bedfellows, but it makes sense for both sides. The pairing comes as a surprise because the French airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance of carriers.

In dealing with SkyTeam's Air France, WestJet is signalling that it wants to remain an independent carrier, and not be tied down to a single alliance, opting instead to pick and choose individual airline partnerships, observers say.

Air Canada belongs to the Star Alliance, the largest of the world's three airline groups, ahead of SkyTeam and Oneworld.

Some insiders say Air France is gravitating toward WestJet at the same time that it distances itself, where possible, from Air Canada.

A WestJet-Air France partnership would have come in handy for passengers who caught WestJet from Toronto to Montreal last week to connect to the historic A380 trip, the first flight on the double-decker jet to carry a planeload of Canadians.

WestJet passengers had to pick up their own luggage in Montreal, and take their bags to the Air France check-in counter for the A380 flight.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 06:43 PM   #736
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By siubu from a Hong Kong discussion forum :

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Old November 23rd, 2007, 11:17 AM   #737
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Deals may add touch of class to WestJet
22 November 2007
The Globe and Mail

TORONTO -- Service-minded Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is exploring a partnership with WestJet Airlines Ltd., sparking speculation that WestJet could start offering new perks in its economy-class cabin.

Hong Kong-based Cathay, one of a handful of top foreign carriers holding talks to form co-operation deals with WestJet, is impressed by the Calgary-based airline's operations.

“The benefit of having a domestic network is extremely important,” Cathay's Canada vice-president Philippe Lacamp said. Cathay's Dragonair subsidiary has an extensive network across China, and WestJet could provide a valuable connecting service in Canada, he said.

Mr. Lacamp made the comments just days after Air France confirmed that it is in talks with WestJet on an “interline” pact, with the two carriers likely to co-operate on a wide range of services such as baggage transfer and passenger ticketing.

Cathay offers three-class service on daily non-stop flights between Vancouver and Hong Kong, and starting Jan. 1, 2008, daily direct flights between Toronto and Hong Kong.

WestJet is in control of its interline destiny and can take its time to choose from among numerous foreign carriers, Mr. Lacamp said after a speech in Toronto to the Empire Club of Canada.

But a potential obstacle for foreign airlines is how to keep their premium sections happy when those travellers are accustomed to upgrades in business class and first class, he said. WestJet flies Boeing 737s, entirely with economy class.

Industry observers said yesterday that there are plenty of ways for WestJet, founded in 1996 as a low-cost carrier, to address the concerns of Cathay and other foreign airlines that have three-class cabins.

Michael Merrithew, chief executive officer of Toronto-based tour operator Merit Travel Group Inc., said WestJet could introduce cost-effective passenger perks without having to undergo an expensive overhaul of its plane interiors.

WestJet could leave the middle seats vacant near the front of its Boeing 737s, thereby creating a feeling of “premium economy,” skipping the need for new rows of seats, Mr. Merrithew said.

As well, WestJet has a user-pay system for common-use lounges at several Canadian airports, but could open access for free to premium ticket holders from Cathay, Air France and others, he said.

If there is a way to generate new revenue through interline deals, WestJet could also offer the premium ticket holders free headphones, snacks and drinks, Mr. Merrithew added.

Rick Erickson, a Calgary-based aviation consultant who heads RP Erickson & Associates, said it's interesting to see WestJet holding talks with foreign carriers belonging to airline alliances that compete against the Star Alliance, whose members include Air Canada. Air France belongs to the SkyTeam alliance while Cathay is part of Oneworld.

While WestJet has experienced delays in introducing a new computer reservations system, Mr. Erickson doesn't see that snag interrupting interline deals.

In an interview on Sunday, WestJet executive vice-president of commercial distribution Hugh Dunleavy declined to give details on interline talks, but he said that “leading airlines around the world recognize and value the guest experience and route network we have put in place. We have been careful in implementing interline at WestJet to ensure that we deliver the same high-quality service to our interline guests that we provide to our domestic and transborder guests.”
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Old December 28th, 2007, 06:35 PM   #738
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Air Canada tests luggage self-tagging system
Last Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2007 | 11:06 AM ET
CBC News


Air Canada passengers can currently use electronic kiosks, like these seen here, to check in and generate boarding passes.Air Canada passengers can currently use electronic kiosks, like these seen here, to check in and generate boarding passes. (Courtesy of Air Canada)

Air Canada is hoping to soon have a system in place to allow passengers to tag their own luggage at electronic check-in kiosks.

The airline's president and CEO, Montie Brewer, said the system would save time.

He said he expects travellers to embrace the idea the same way bank customers did with automated teller machines 20 years ago.

Under the system, travellers would enter their booking reference number at a kiosk and print off the tags. The luggage, with tags attached, would then be taken to a conveyer belt for the X-ray machine.

Pending approval by Transport Canada, the plan could be in effect by the end of 2008.

"It's for customer service that they're doing this and to lessen the time and the cost," said Lucy Vignola, a spokesperson at Transport Canada. "But we just need to make sure that security isn't compromised and that the baggage checking is still going on properly."

"Our main focus isn't to see so much how it works for passengers, but more, is everybody meeting our security regulations," she said.

Trials are already underway in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. The self-serve option will later be available in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Halifax.

WestJet said it plans to introduce its own self-tagging luggage program in mid-2008.
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Old December 30th, 2007, 02:15 AM   #739
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Does anybody know if Air Canada is planing to fly to Guatemala any time soon????
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Old January 11th, 2008, 04:10 AM   #740
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Air Canada Passengers Hurt in Turbulence
10 January 2008





CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - An Air Canada jetliner made an emergency landing in Calgary on Thursday after 10 people were injured when the Airbus A319 hit turbulence during a cross-country flight, tossing passengers around the cabin.

None of the injuries was life-threatening, said Bryce Paton of the Calgary Airport Authority.

Passenger Jayne Harvey said the plane dropped sharply, then rolled left and right as the pilots fought to bring it under control.

The pilots came on the intercom "and said they were flying manually and that the computer had been knocked out," she said. "I thought that that was it for me."

Air Canada did not immediately confirm the cause of the problem.

The jet, carrying 88 people from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto, was diverted to Calgary for the emergency landing, officials said.

The plane landed safely at 8:30 a.m. with a request for medical units to meet the aircraft because of injuries on board, Paton said. Ambulances surrounded the jet and paramedics and tended to the injured.

Stuart Brideaux of Calgary Emergency Medical Services said 10 people were taken to a hospital.

Andrew Evans said he was seated near the cockpit when a calm flight turned to heart-pounding chaos.

"All of a sudden there were three big drops," Evans said.

"One major drop and then two more that went `Oomph! Oomph!' And the plane rolled a bit after that. I was in the very, very front seat of the plane and was watching dishes fly through the air," said Evans.

"There was a crash. The cart tipped over and there was a lot of squealing. It was over and done with in 10 or 15 seconds."

The rough flight was the second in Canada in recent months. In September, nine people were hurt and three sent to hospital after a Halifax-bound WestJet flight hit turbulence with little warning.
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