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Old September 12th, 2008, 05:53 AM   #781
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WestJet nears its seating capacity; Air Canada Also Up
Load factor of 88.4% means few empty seats

5 September 2008
National Post

If too many more customers fly on WestJet Airlines Ltd., the popular airline just might have to start turning some of them away. Last month, the Calgary-based airliner filled a record-high 88.4% of its seats, besting its 88% figure from August, 2007.

"It's getting into the upper end of what we're comfortable with," Richard Bartrem, West-Jet's vice-president of culture and communications, said yesterday. "But we will take full planes any time we can."

High load factors become a problem when you consider walk-up customers, National Bank analyst David Newman said. "There's an optimal range, between 78% and 82%," he said. "Above 85%, you get spilling, where you lose walk-ups, which is more lucrative traffic."

Basically, if someone walked up to a counter at Pearson Airport looking for a flight leaving today, they would be paying far more than someone who pre-booked. But if all the planes are full, WestJet would have to turn those desperate customers away.

However, Mr. Bartrem is less concerned about walk-up customers, as they typically involve short-haul flights only, and there are too many variables for it to affect their entire business. "What you don't want for high load factors is operational delays," he said. If a full plane is delayed by a summer storm and all the later planes are also booked, you're looking at a lot of unhappy campers.

Still, everything above 70% capacity on any given aircraft is profit, so a high load factor is ultimately a good thing. "As soon as that seat is empty and in the air, that's a lost asset," Mr. Newman said.

The August numbers are an 8.7-percentage-point increase from July, when only 79.7% of seats were filled by warm bodies.

The results were a "pleasant surprise" for Mr. Bartrem and WestJet, but he credits competitive prices, the summer busy season and excellent customer service for the bump.

Savvy flyers are also booking further in advance. The company has seen a new trend of customers picking their Christmas destinations in September because of rising fuel costs, so they know "this is the price I'm paying now in case it goes up," he said.

For each dollar change on the price of a barrel of oil, WestJet sees a swing of $5-million in its bottom line, Mr. Bartrem said.

Meanwhile, Air Canada posted a healthy load factor of 84.4% (calculated on a consolidated basis with Jazz), an increase of 0.6 percentage points versus 83.8% in August 2007. But the numbers do not approach WestJet's.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 08:57 AM   #782
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WestJet brushes off potential CAW drive
Company cites ‘strong relationship' with non-union employee representatives group

11 September 2008
The Globe and Mail

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is playing down a looming certification drive by the Canadian Auto Workers union, telling investors that the carrier isn't sweating about organized labour's attempt to make inroads.

“Our perspective is we're confident we have a very, very positive relationship with our employee base. We have a proven track record of being open and transparent with our employee base,” WestJet chief financial officer Vito Culmone said yesterday at a transportation conference sponsored by the investment arm of Royal Bank of Canada that was webcast from Toronto.

On Tuesday, the CAW's new president, Ken Lewenza, said WestJet employees would gain greater job security and benefits in his union, compared with the current Pro-Active Communication Team (PACT), a non-union group that represents 6,300 WestJet workers. There are also 1,000 non-PACT staff, including executives and managers.

“We're looking to establish a committee to check the genuine interest, which is the preliminary outreach step to an organizing drive,” Mr. Lewenza said in an interview.

But Mr. Culmone told institutional investors at the RBC conference that WestJet has a healthy corporate culture, bolstered by a profit-sharing plan and a popular stock purchase program in which more than 80 per cent of employees own WestJet shares.

Teamwork is emphasized at WestJet, where executives are dubbed Big Shots, human resources is named the People Department, accountants work in Beanland and receptionists are on the Welcoming Team.

“It's not something we take for granted. Clearly, we work very, very, hard at maintaining that. We're very open to maintaining the current relationship that we have, which is with PACT,” Mr. Culmone said. “PACT is the voice of our employees within our organization. We feel we really have a strong relationship there.”

Cameron Doerksen, an analyst at Versant Partners Inc., said he isn't “overly concerned” about the CAW, noting that previous drives by other unions have failed at Calgary-based WestJet.

In the unlikely event that the CAW is able pull off a successful drive for a portion of WestJet's work force, “unionization would not necessarily spell the end for WestJet's business model,” Mr. Doerksen said in a research note.

At the RBC conference, Air Canada CFO Michael Rousseau reiterated plans to chop 2,000 jobs this fall to help combat high fuel prices, and the carrier is continuing to look for other ways to reduce operating costs.

Recent cost-cutting decisions include cancelling or scaling back routes. Smaller steps are also being taken to help make the airline run more efficiently, including reducing waste by phasing out free audio headsets, which customers leave on the plane after using just once.

Effective Oct. 1, Air Canada said it will begin charging $3 for a higher-quality headset for those travelling in economy class in North America, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. The airline plans to drain its current inventory of free flimsy headsets at the end of September, encouraging travellers to bring their own ear buds starting in October.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #783
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Air Transat Joins Transport Association
8 August 2008
National Post

Air Transat, the airline of travel tour operator Transat A.T., yesterday became the second Canadian airline to join the International Air Transport Association, the world's leading airline industry group consisting of 230 of the largest carriers. Air Canada is the only other Canadian member of IATA, which includes such names as British Airways, Lufthansa and American Airlines. To join the organization, Air Transat had to pass IATA's rigorous 900-point operational safety audit, which reviews all of the airline's operations, including its security procedures, cabin operations, aircraft engineering and maintenance, and ground handling. Aside from allowing access to networking with some of the world's leading airlines, winning IATA's support is also a boost to Air Transat's reputation for safety and security. WestJet Airlines is evaluating whether it, too, will join the organization.
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Old September 13th, 2008, 10:18 PM   #784
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Old September 13th, 2008, 11:02 PM   #785
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Old September 15th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #786
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Here's an article from the Toronto Star which I'm sure someone will find interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Toronto Star
AVIATION
Air Canada's Fuel proof supply system


RICK MADONIK/TORONTO STAR

Ahmad Shah of Consolidated Aviation Fueling of Toronto supervises the refuelling of an Air Canada jet at Pearson airport. Air Canada imports its own jet fuel into Ontario. Aug. 26, 2008


Sep 13, 2008 04:30 AM
Chris Sorensen
Business Reporter

Tell Ahmad Shah to "fill 'er up," and you're going to need a bank loan.

On a recent afternoon, the 21-year-old was pumping 19,200 litres of jet fuel, worth about $23,000, into the wing of an Air Canada Airbus A-320 before it taxied down the runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and took off for Vancouver.

"It will take about 25 or 30 minutes," said a bored-looking Shah, who works for Consolidated Aviation Fueling of Toronto.

Wearing an orange vest and blue work uniform, Shah watched from behind mirrored sunglasses as a digital counter told him exactly how much of the straw-coloured liquid rushed through the hose over his head.

Bigger jets such as Air Canada's new Boeing 777s are even thirstier machines. Flying from Toronto to Narita in Japan, for example, requires roughly 120,000 litres of fuel, with a price tag closer to about $144,000.

"Now you know why we have a fuel surcharge," joked an Air Canada spokesperson over the noise of a taxiing jet.

Air Canada's fuel woes are well known. Even with the recent tumble of crude oil prices, the airline still plans to scale back flights and slash up to 2,000 jobs in order to offset a fuel bill that is expected to grow by $1 billion this year. And while the spot price of Gulf Coast jet fuel has dropped 22 per cent since its early-July peak, last week's closing price was still some 48 per cent higher than a year ago.

High fuel prices were among the culprits in the recent shutdowns of Ottawa's Zoom Airlines, Vancouver's Harmony Airways, CanJet's scheduled business and Jetsgo.

But while historically high oil prices affect airlines around the world, Air Canada officials say the issue is particularly acute in this country because of a "critical" lack of refining capacity to turn oil into jet fuel and other products.

It's a complaint that has also been levelled by motorists and politicians following refinery glitches – last year in Ontario and this year in Alberta – that caused price spikes and dry pumps at some gas stations. Just yesterday, local drivers were shocked by a 13-cent-per-litre jump in gas prices due to worries about the latest hurricane interrupting refinery output in the United States.

Air Canada deemed the situation so dire that it decided several years ago to break away from the grip of local oil companies and begin importing its own jet fuel into Ontario, creating a global supply chain that quickly became the envy of the industry when jet fuel prices soared.

Standing a short distance from Pearson's busy runways, Paul Whitty, Air Canada's director of fuel purchasing and supply, surveys the complicated network of silver pipes and pumps that lead to nine above-ground holding tanks and 17 underground tanks that collectively hold 17 million litres of jet fuel.

From there, jet fuel passes through a tangled system of valves nicknamed "spaghetti junction" and is pushed out underneath the airport's aprons, where it is drawn by trucks from hydrants in the ground.

In Toronto, airlines are responsible for purchasing their own jet fuel, but once it arrives at the airport it becomes part of a shared system owned and operated by the airlines. The arrangement is an unusual one. Elsewhere in the world, the infrastructure tends to be owned by the oil companies themselves.

Some of the jet fuel in Pearson's tank farm is piped directly to the airport from refineries in southern Ontario.

But nearly all of Air Canada's jet fuel – about half of the 2 billion litres consumed at Pearson every year – is purchased overseas and arrives by a combination of ship and rail before it is finally dumped from a truck into the system, similar to the way a gas station is re-supplied.

Whitty says Air Canada decided in 2002 to create its own fuel-supply chain because of concerns that the supply in Ontario, where most of Air Canada's flying originates, was not reliable enough to meet its fuel needs.

According to Whitty, rising demand for regular gasoline and new low-sulphur diesel fuels encouraged refineries to shift capacity away from making jet fuel, thereby reducing the overall supply and raising prices.

Roughly 80 per cent of the fuel consumed by Air Canada planes at Pearson now comes from refineries in the Middle East, South America and parts of Asia. A similar program on the West Coast meets about 75 per cent of the airline's fuel needs in Vancouver.

"There's no other airline on the planet that does this," says Whitty. "Airlines are typically a captive audience to their local refining community."

Air Canada's fuel is brought into the country on ocean-going freighters and is unloaded at a port in Quebec City, the furthest up the St. Lawrence Seaway the fuel-carrying freighters can safely travel. From there, it is either placed on a barge that travels up the seaway to Hamilton, where it is put in holding tanks until it's trucked to Pearson, or put on rail cars that travel to a depot located 26 kilometres from the airport. The fuel is then trucked in for the final stretch.

To get some idea of the quantities involved, consider that Air Canada burns through the equivalent of about 1,800 tanker-trucks worth of fuel every month at Pearson alone.

One truck tank of jet fuel is about enough to fly a jetliner from Toronto to Frankfurt, Whitty says.

There are attractive savings from buying globally in today's environment of high oil prices. Whitty estimates that Air Canada is currently saving about $80 million a year on jet fuel.

But the real motivator is maintaining a stable supply.

"At certain times of the year, Air Canada is sometimes considered a supplier of last resort to this airport," he says.

Air Canada's decision to immerse itself in the fuel importation business speaks to the larger question of refinery capacity – or lack thereof – in Canada.

Critics have blamed a lack of refining ability for a spate of gasoline shortages across Canada in recent years. In one instance, a fire at an Imperial Oil refinery in Nanticoke in February of 2007 combined with a strike by employees at Canadian National Railway Co. left hundreds of gas stations in Ontario and Quebec without any gas to sell.

More recently, a problem with the catalytic cracking unit at an Edmonton refinery caused the pumps to run dry in Alberta.

"A lot of the refineries in Ontario are old and antiquated," says Whitty. "These unanticipated shutdowns are becoming more and more frequent."

While the oil companies claim such situations are rare, observers say there is a reluctance to build more refining capacity into the system because of razor-thin margins. The last new refinery was built in Canada in 1984, while Ontario actually has fewer refineries today than it did just three years ago.

"Refineries are large capital investments," says Spencer Knipping, a petroleum adviser with the province's ministry of energy and infrastructure. "And as we go into the future with ethanol blends and all these developments, oil companies are getting antsy about these big capital projects."

Last month, for example, Shell scrapped a plan to build a 150,000 to 250,000 barrels-per-day refinery next to its existing plant in Sarnia, citing poor market conditions and rising construction costs.

While Knipping acknowledges infrastructure is currently "somewhat tight," he notes that oil companies and energy traders are able to import fuels from other provinces or other countries.

But even with its own carefully built supply line, Air Canada has not managed to completely eliminate the risk of running out of fuel at Pearson, its main hub.

The airport's existing tank farm only has enough fuel on hand for about two days of airport operations, which is not nearly enough of a buffer when you consider that everything from a bad batch of jet fuel to foul weather – common during the winter months – can put an unexpected dent in the re-supply schedule.

There have been times when the airport was nearly running on fumes.

"I've been here quite literally with a hand pump trying to get enough pressure to try and get the fuel out to the apron," says Jules Molinari, the general manager of Consolidated Aviation Fueling of Toronto, the consortium of airlines that owns and operates the fuelling infrastructure at Pearson. "It's a hand-to-mouth operation right now."

However, that will change next spring when a new satellite tank farm opens near the airport, boosting the supply of jet fuel on hand to about eight days worth.

The new facility, which consists of four giant above-ground storage tanks that will eventually hold some 40 million litres of jet fuel, is being built by the consortium at a cost of $50 million and will be connected to the existing tank farm by six kilometres of pipe.

The satellite tank farm will virtually eliminate the need for Air Canada to truck its jet fuel from a Toronto-area rail yard to Pearson. The addition of a spur will allow trains to travel directly from Quebec City to a railcar-unloading facility connected to the new storage tanks.

Whitty says it soon will take just 10 hours to offload 26 fuel-laden railcars, compared with 16 hours to unload 16 railcars at the current rail site. There is also room to expand the offloading site in the future as the airport's fuel needs grow.

Which raises the question: Why aren't more airlines importing their own fuel?

The answer, says Whitty, has to do with the geographic hurdles of building a supply chain into a country as vast as Canada, and with the long-term commitment needed to operate such a system.

There's also a severe lack of available infrastructure.

"These oil companies and energy trading companies have more or less captured all of the infrastructure needed to bring product into these regions," he says. "So, for example, the tankage that we've secured at the ports in Quebec City and Hamilton, had we not secured them a few years ago, we wouldn't have it today."

As a result, many of Air Canada's competitors are often left to scrounge for extra fuel at Pearson when supplies are tight.

Shortly before noon, a tanker truck bearing Michigan plates rolls into the lot at the airport's main tank farm. The driver hops out and begins connecting a hose to one of the farm's underground tanks.

"That right there tells you how tight this market is," says Whitty, noting that the truck wasn't hired by Air Canada.

"Someone is trucking in fuel all the way from Dearborn. And that can't be cheap."

* * * * *

Air Canada's fuel management

Air Canada's fuel purchasing and supply program is just one piece of an overall strategy to manage the supply and price of fuel, which has become the biggest single expense for the airline ahead of labour. Others include:

• A systematic program of fuel hedging, in which the airline buys future contracts for related products such as crude oil in a bid to even out price swings in jet fuel.

• An extensive fuel conservation program that includes everything from flying planes more slowly to reducing cabin weight by dumping things like excess drinking water, newspapers and blankets.

• Fuel surcharges on airline tickets.

• A "tankering" program that consists of having individual planes fill their tanks with more fuel than is necessary at destinations where the price of fuel is lower.
Airline's move to import fuel makes it the envy of an industry held hostage by prices and shortages

Air Canada's fuel program (.pdf)
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Old September 18th, 2008, 04:23 AM   #787
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Air Canada cabin crew union loses severance bid

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The union representing Air Canada's flight attendants said on Tuesday it lost a bid to win severance for members who will be laid off in an upcoming round of cuts after the airline indicated layoffs would be temporary.

A government-appointed arbitrator declined to award severance packages for flight attendants who opt to leave the carrier or supplemental income for those who relocate within the company or enter job-sharing arrangements, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Air Canada said in July that it will lay off more than 600 flight attendants. It is part of a plan to shed 2,000 jobs and cut capacity by 7 percent to cope with high fuel prices and slackening travel demand.

The airline has said it will cut 300 cabin crew jobs as it reduces long-haul flights from Vancouver and closes bases in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The union, which has 7,200 members, opposes the base closures.

It said the arbitrator's ruling will only reduce the impact of the cuts on a small number of flight attendants.

"The financial resources available for the flight attendants affected by the cuts and closures will provide minimal relocation support, some commuting assistance and a job sharing option, but not for all those choosing to stay with the airline," CUPE said in a statement.

It said Air Canada's total cost of the adjustment package will be C$5.5 million ($5.1 million) to gain a total annual saving of C$33 million.

CUPE said part of the difficulty in determining the impact on employees was that the airline began the process saying the cuts would be permanent and changed its position to term the layoffs temporary.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #788
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Air Canada, rivals chop fees as fuel prices ease

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Thursday it will be the first major North American carrier to drop its extra fee for a second piece of checked baggage in response to the recent drop in fuel prices.

Air Canada also said it will start incorporating all fuel costs into its advertised fares on North American flights, rather than tacking them on separately as surcharges.

Domestic rivals, WestJet Airlines Ltd and Porter Airlines Inc, quickly followed suit by removing their own fuel surcharges.

With Canada's economy slowing and a round of staff and capacity cuts looming, Air Canada's move is more a signal of its desire to boost competitiveness than a sign that tough times in the sector are coming to an end, an analyst said.

It had joined numerous other airlines in implementing a C$25 ($23) charge for extra bags this spring as oil prices headed to highs above $147 a barrel. Crude has since dropped by a third to below $100.

Air Canada said it will scrap the fee on Sept. 23.

"It is fair to say that we are always going to be competitive in our markets. Because we have seen some retreat in the fuel prices of late, we've made the decision to reinstate our previous baggage policy," Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said.

It has been adding a fuel surcharge of C$20 to C$60 per one-way fare on Canadian and U.S. routes.

WestJet, the country's No. 2 carrier, did not impose extra baggage fees, but had set fuel surcharges. It removed them on Thursday, saying it too was responding to lower fuel prices.

With its moves, Air Canada likely did not want to be seen as anti-consumer by being alone in the market in charging for extra bags, said Rick Erickson, head of airline consultancy RP Erickson & Associates.

"With consumer confidence dropping and with the economy slowing down, certainly in central Canada and Atlantic Canada, Air Canada's trying to be as attractive as they can with a product to offer what's likely to be a smaller group of consumers," Erickson said.

The airline, whose stock has been under severe pressure along with much of the industry, said in June it will cut 2,000 jobs and 7 percent of its capacity in this autumn and winter schedules to cope with record fuel costs and the weaker economic outlook.

Its biggest cuts will be in routes between cities in Canada and the United States.

Erickson said it is unlikely the lower fuel costs will mean a big jump in third-quarter profit, with oil having just fallen below $100 a barrel this week, but it could be a big story for the fourth quarter.

Shares in Air Canada jumped 21 Canadian cents, or nearly 5 percent, to C$4.55 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They are down more than 60 percent since the start of the year.

WestJet fell 23 Canadian cents, or nearly 2 percent, to C$13.38. It has dropped 40 percent in the same period. ($1=$1.07 Canadian)
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Old September 26th, 2008, 10:41 AM   #789
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ACE poised to buy rest of Air Canada - analyst

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Air Canada's parent company is poised to buy back the 25 percent of the airline it doesn't already own for C$215 million ($209 million) to make good on a promise to end the holding-company structure, a veteran analyst predicted on Thursday.

Shares in Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, surged 14 percent, or 59 Canadian cents, to C$4.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They had been down 69 percent in the previous 12 months.

Research Capital Corp analyst Jacques Kavafian said he believes ACE Aviation Holdings will pay C$8.50 a share for the stake, double Wednesday's closing price.

Kavafian said this week's resignation of ACE Chief Financial Officer Brian Dunne from the Air Canada board removed any potential conflict of interest muddying such a deal.

"You take that into consideration, look at the options ACE has, and you know they want to unwind this by the end of the year. So you triangulate it and you come up with that conclusion," Kavafian said.

He said ACE has a net C$505 million in cash on its books.

Following a buyback, ACE would become Air Canada and the holding company structure would be dissolved, as has been ACE Chief Executive's Robert Milton's plan.

Kavafian recommended investors buy Air Canada shares as such a transaction could be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Officials with both ACE and Air Canada declined to comment on what they termed speculation.

In the past year, ACE has sold off all of its interests in frequent flier program Groupe Aeroplan and Jazz Air LP , Air Canada's regional affiliate.

Its remaining holdings are the 75 percent Air Canada interest and a 28 percent stake in aircraft maintenance provider ACTS.

A buyback of the minority holding is one of three options Milton has discussed for winding up ACE, an initiative that has been delayed amid the downturn in the airline sector and Air Canada's weak stock price.

He has also said ACE could float its Air Canada interest in a secondary offering or sell the airline to private equity players.

In August, Dunne said ACE would narrow the options for dealing with its interest in the carrier over the next two or three months.

Stung by high fuel costs and a weakening economy, the airline is preparing to lay off 2,000 workers and cut its capacity by 7 percent.

At an investor conference on Wednesday, Air Canada Chief Executive Montie Brewer said he was given no reason for Dunne's departure from the board. He was the only ACE manager who had been on the airline's board.

However, four independent directors, Bernard Attali, Pierre Marc Johnson, David Richardson and Marvin Yontef, are on both boards, he said.

ACE shares fell 6 Canadian cents at C$8.51.
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Old November 2nd, 2008, 05:48 AM   #790
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By Gordon Tan from HKADB :



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Old November 5th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #791
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Quite a lot of rumours going back about WestJet joining Oneworld, so perhaps this is the beginning step :

WestJet to expand reach via some Oneworld carriers

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 4 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Inc said on Tuesday it is teaming up with some members of the Oneworld airline alliance, led by British Airways Plc and AMR Corp's American Airlines, to broaden the Canadian carrier's international reach.

WestJet, Canada's No. 2 airline, said it and the group of international carriers will form the Canadaconnect corporate travel program, offering flights to 600 destinations in 130 countries.

The alliance may help WestJet better compete against its larger rival Air Canada , which offers international service and is part of the Star Alliance codesharing group.

WestJet said the other participating airlines in its Canadaconnect program include Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd , Japan Airlines Corp , Quantas and Royal Jordanian. It said other members of the group may join in the future.

The airline said it has no plans to join the Oneworld alliance. The company has agreed to a codesharing agreement with Southwest Airlines Co , the biggest U.S. domestic carrier, that begins next year.

WestJet shares fell 30 Canadian cents to C$10.50 late afternoon on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=$1.15 Canadian)
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Old November 7th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #792
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Air Canada Swings To 3Q Loss
Hurt By Record Fuel Prices

7 November 2008
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Air Canada (AC.B.T) swung to a third-quarter loss, hurt mainly by record high fuel prices.

The Montreal-based air carrier reported a net loss of C$132 million or C$1.32 a share compared with net income of C$273 million or C$2.73 a share a year earlier.

Results in the latest quarter include non-cash mark-to-market net losses of C$93 million on financial instruments, consisting primarily of fuel hedge contracts, and net losses on foreign currency monetary items of C$87 million.

On an adjusted basis, the airline posted a loss of 45 Canadian cents a share in its latest quarter.

The Thomson Reuters mean estimate for the latest quarter was for earnings of 13 Canadian cents a share.

Revenue in the latest period amounted to C$3.075 billion, up from C$2.95 billion a year earlier. Of the total, passenger revenue was C$2.8 billion versus C$2.66 billion, Air Canada said.

Air Canada's operating income fell to C$112 million from a record C$351 million a year earlier. Fuel expenses increased C$348 million in the latest quarter to C$1.1 billion due to record high fuel prices, which were up 49% from the year-earlier quarter.

Unit cost, as measured by operating expense per available seat mile, rose 17.9% from a year earlier, largely due to the significant increase in fuel expenses. Excluding fuel expense, unit cost increased 4.3% from a year earlier, more than half of which was due to ownership costs reflecting the air carrier's investment in new aircraft and the aircraft interior refurbishment program.

Meanwhile, Air Canada said EBITDAR, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and aircraft rent, amounted to C$355 million, down from C$561 million a year earlier.

Air Canada said it reduced overall capacity by 3.5% in the latest quarter compared with a year earlier. Traffic fell 2.2% on this capacity reduction, resulting in a 1% improvement in system passenger load factor. Yield grew 6.2%, mainly due to higher fares and fuel surcharges to partially offset the impact of higher fuel prices.

An increase in revenue helped the company post an operating profit in the second quarter despite soaring fuel costs. Oil prices have since declined, and although that drop is good news for Air Canada, analysts have noted that it put hedges in place this summer that will counter some of the benefit of lower oil prices.

Observers have also warned that the economic slowdown will likely depress demand for air travel. And Canadian air carriers may see reduced demand for travel to warmer destinations due to the recent weakening of the Canadian dollar.

Air Canada now expects 2008 capacity to be down 1%-1.5% from a year earlier, compared with its previous projection of between a 1% drop and an increase of 1%.

For the fourth quarter of 2008, Air Canada expects to reduce capacity between 7% to 8% compared to a year earlier, while first quarter of 2009 capacity is expected to be reduced by 7%-9% from the year-earlier first quarter.

Air Canada said it continues to "aggressively" cut costs through company-wide initiatives and expects to achieve its previously announced improvement target of C$100 million by year end. It also said forward bookings are in line with announced capacity reductions.

In Toronto, Air Canada closed Thursday at C$5.36, up 6 Canadian cents.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 09:01 AM   #793
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
By emjass from a Hong Kong discussion forum :



























super cute. I love the livery of JAZZ!
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Old November 10th, 2008, 05:03 PM   #794
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WestJet profit skids 28 pct on higher fuel costs

TORONTO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd's third-quarter profit fell 28 percent because of higher fuel costs and a challenging environment for demand, Canada's No. 2 airline said on Monday.

WestJet, which has been among the industry's most profitable carriers as conditions have worsened in the past year, earned C$54.7 million ($46 million), or 42 Canadian cents a share, down from a year-earlier profit of C$76.1 million, or 58 Canadian cents a share.

It had been expected to earn 40 Canadian cents a share, according to a Reuters Estimates survey of analysts' forecasts.

Revenue rose 18.5 percent to C$718.4 million from C$606.2 million.

WestJet said fuel was its biggest expense in the quarter and represented almost 40 percent of its operating costs.

Last week, its chief competitor, Air Canada , reported a quarterly loss due to record fuel prices early in the quarter and out-of-the-money hedges as oil prices fell later.

WestJet begins a code-share partnership with Southwest Airlines Co in 2009, and recently announced an alliance with some airlines that are part of the Oneworld partnership.

($1=$1.18 Canadian)
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Old November 11th, 2008, 05:51 AM   #795
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WestJet flush with cash as profit falls 28 percent

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 10 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd , Canada's No. 2 carrier, has tempered its plans to boost capacity but remains cash-rich and expects to grab more market share as the North American economy sputters.

While reporting a 28 percent drop in third-quarter profit due to sky-high fuel costs, WestJet said it now expects its capacity to rise by 5 percent in 2009, down from its previous outlook of 8 percent.

But it blamed aircraft delivery delays due to the recently settled strike among machinists at Boeing Co for the pullback, not weak industry conditions. Its main competitor, Air Canada , and numerous U.S. airlines have chopped capacity over the past several months.

WestJet, one of just a few airlines that have stayed profitable during the industry downturn and credit crunch, plans a 2007 capacity increase of 18 percent.

"It will come off next year, but at the same time, we think it's prudent to continue to grow and we're growing profitably -- we wouldn't do it if we weren't making money," WestJet Chief Executive Sean Durfy told analysts. "So we continue to do that and continue to take market share."

In addition, the carrier ended the quarter with C$800 million ($672 million) of cash on its balance sheet and has minimal capital expenditures in 2009, giving it a thick cushion as rivals burn through their reserves.

Last week, Air Canada said it had it had C$1.114 billion on its balance sheet, just C$114 million more than is considered comfortable.

"They're strong financially. Their outlook is more positive than I would have expected -- that's the bottom line for me," analyst Cameron Doerksen of Versant Partners said. "They have a decent view of what the fourth quarter looks like. Perhaps the first quarter and second quarter are a little more uncertain."

The company had to deal surging oil prices early in the quarter, pushing its fuel bill to 40 percent of overall costs, up from 27 percent a year earlier.

WestJet said it has begun hedging a portion of its fuel costs to deal with oil-market volatility. It has hedged 20 percent of its fuel needs in 2009 and 8 percent in 2010.

Excluding fuel, costs fell 4.7 percent in the quarter.

WestJet shares were down 32 Canadian cents, or 3 percent, at C$10.33 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday, less than half their value at the start of 2008.

The company earned C$54.7 million, or 42 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter, down from a year-earlier profit of C$76.1 million, or 58 Canadian cents a share.

It had been expected to earn 40 Canadian cents a share, according to a Reuters Estimates survey of analysts' forecasts.

Revenue rose 18.5 percent to C$718.4 million from C$606.2 million.

WestJet begins a partnership with Southwest Airlines Co in 2009. It will start selling seats on Southwest's website before the end of this year and code-sharing is slated to begin in late 2009, Durfy said.

WestJet also said it signed a deal with Sabre Holdings for a new reservation system after it was forced to walk away from a failed attempt to have one designed last year.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #796
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As ACE delays, Air Canada dives
Carrier's shares hit record low after majority owner says it won't be rushed into selling, given the tight credit markets
12 November 2008
The Globe and Mail

Investors sent Air Canada shares to a record low yesterday, after majority owner ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. said it won't be rushed into a decision on selling the airline.

Earlier this year, ACE said it was keen to find a private equity firm to buy the carrier, but analysts now say any potential buyers have been scared off by tight credit markets and an airline industry battered by high fuel prices and a sluggish economy.

Montreal-based ACE, created after Air Canada emerged from bankruptcy protection four years ago, is reluctant to set any deadline, “given where capital markets are at,” ACE chief financial officer Brian Dunne said during a conference call with industry analysts yesterday.

ACE, which sold a 25-per-cent Air Canada stake to investors in an initial public offering two years ago for $21 a share, said it is diligently examining how to dissolve the holding company – a process that analysts say could easily stretch into 2009, instead of the original target of Dec. 31.

“We are actively exploring options for our 75-per-cent interest in Air Canada to maximize value for our shareholders,” Mr. Dunne said.

Instead of counting on selling Air Canada to an outside party, ACE has shifted its attention to issuing new ACE shares in a stock swap with shareholders who own the minority stake in Air Canada.

While some analysts speculated that ACE favoured paying cash to buy back Air Canada's public float of 25 million shares, Mr. Dunne said such a repurchase program is “less likely at this time.”

Investors ran for the exits as Air Canada shares declined 18 per cent yesterday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They have tumbled 45 per cent since the carrier said on Friday that it posted a $132-million loss in its third quarter, raising concerns about a cash crunch at Canada's largest airline.

ACE shares have descended 33 per cent since Friday.

An industry source familiar with ACE said “difficult and complicated” circumstances have led to a “drawn-out” process of winding down ACE.

Some analysts believed that Robert Milton, ACE's chairman and chief executive officer, would announce during yesterday's conference call that ACE would disclose a buyback of Air Canada shares.

But with the global financial crisis and stock market turmoil, ACE doesn't feel bound by any artificial deadlines, the source said.

In a statement before the call, Mr. Milton said ACE executives are “actively exploring options for ACE's capital structure, including its convertible preferred shares.”

ACE has already sold its stakes in Jazz Air Income Fund and Groupe Aeroplan Inc., but still owns a 27.8-per-cent stake in aircraft repair firm Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., formerly Air Canada Technical Services.

In the third quarter, ACE lost $135-million or $3.86 a share, blaming high fuel prices and weakened travel demand owing to the “uncertain global economy.” ACE said its “unconsolidated cash” totalled $824-million at the end of September.

Chris Murray, an analyst at CIBC World Markets Inc., noted that Air Canada is highly levered and its health could worsen with the weaker Canadian dollar, but that the airline should be able to overcome adversity.

Over the past two years, Air Canada's total stock market value has fallen to $297-million from $2.1-billion.

ACE, which has been gradually unwinding operations, is now valued at $136-million.

New York-based Cerberus Capital Management LP, which helped rescue the airline in 2004, recently owned 6.55 million ACE preferred shares, or 52.4 per cent of the outstanding preferred stock.

Separately, there are ACE senior debt notes that are convertible into 12.2 million ACE common shares.

Sources say a variety of institutional investors, including hedge funds, own $323-million in ACE convertible notes, but Cerberus doesn't own any of the notes.
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Old November 13th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #797
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ACE posts loss, says no cash buyout of Air Canada

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 11 (Reuters) - ACE Aviation Holdings Inc , the parent company of Air Canada , said on Tuesday it is still looking for ways to wind itself down but that it is unlikely to do so by making a cash offer for the public minority stake in Canada's No. 1 airline.

ACE, which reported a third-quarter loss of C$135 million, or C$3.86 a share, after posting a year-earlier profit of C$224 million, or C$1.84, said uncertain capital markets and a weak outlook for the airline industry are slowing the process of winding itself down.

While it has already divested its stake in the Air Canada frequent flyer program and in regional carrier Jazz Air , ACE said it is still looking at options for its Air Canada majority stake.

"We are actively exploring options for our 75 percent interest in Air Canada to maximize the value for our shareholders," Brian Dunne, the company's chief financial officer, said on a conference call. "These options include a share exchange for the minority shareholding in Air Canada. Discussions with a number of parties are ongoing."

Some analysts have urged ACE to repurchase the Air Canada minority stake since the airline's shares have fallen nearly 85 percent from the C$21 price at which ACE floated the stake in late 2006.

However, Dunne said a cash buyout of Air Canada was a "less likely option" for ACE.

"A share exchange might be more appropriate in that that does result in a combination of Air Canada ... and probably results in more cash being available to Air Canada in the longer term," he said.

Some analysts viewed the statement as a signal that ACE will still move to buy the remainder of Air Canada, but offer shares rather than money for the holding.

"They didn't reject calls to buy it, they rejected calls to buy it for cash," said Jacques Kavafian, an analyst at Research Capital.

ACE said its third-quarter loss included one-time items such as C$93 million in fuel hedge contracts and net foreign exchange losses of C$87 million. Without those items, the company said operating income was C$105 million, down 69 percent from C$340 million in the year-earlier quarter.

The drop in operating income was due to high fuel prices and "the effects of an uncertain economy on Air Canada's results," it said in a statement.

Air Canada itself posted a third-quarter loss of C$132 million, or C$1.32 a share, last week, compared with a year-earlier profit of C$273 million, or C$2.73 a share. The results spurred analysts to begin fretting about the airline's weakening cash position.

ACE, which also has a minority stake in aircraft maintenance company ACTS, said it ended the quarter with C$824 million in cash on hand.

ACE revenue rose 1.8 percent to C$3.08 billion.

ACE class A shares fell 52 Canadian cents, or 12 percent, to C$3.94 at midday on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Air Canada's A shares fell 77 Canadian cents, or 20 percent, to C$2.96.

($1=$1.21 Canadian)
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Old November 13th, 2008, 05:24 PM   #798
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By holup from HKADB :

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Old November 14th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #799
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Aeroplan profit down on higher reward costs, taxes

TORONTO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Groupe Aeroplan Inc reported lower third-quarter profit on Friday, largely due to higher reward program costs and the effect of income tax as it converted into a corporation.

Aeroplan, best known as Air Canada's frequent flier program operator, earned C$35 million ($28.7 million), or 18 Canadian cents a share, down from a year-earlier C$50.9 million, or 26 Canadian cents a share.

Three analysts, on average, expected earnings of 17 Canadian cents a share, according to data compiled by Reuters Estimate.

Adjusted net earnings fell by 1.3 percent to $63.2 million. Revenues rose 53 percent to C$335 million.

Gross billings from the sale of its miles and points rose 50.1 percent to C$355.6 million. The company said that was largely due to the inclusion of the consolidated results of recently acquired Loyalty Management Group, which runs the Nectar rewards program in Britain.

Reward costs climbed 50.2 percent to C$191 million from C$127.2 million.

In May, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc , Air Canada's parent company, sold its remaining 20 percent interest in Aeroplan, which subsequently abandoned its structure as an income trust and converted into a corporation. Aeroplan said income taxes due to the conversion also ate into profits. ($1=$1.22 Canadian)
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Old November 20th, 2008, 05:19 AM   #800
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Air Canada flight attendant helped land plane

I don't know if there's any mention of this around SSC, but I thought this was a pretty odd story.


Air Canada flight attendant helped land plane
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- An Air Canada co-pilot having a mental breakdown had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit, restrained and sedated, and a stewardess with an out-of-date license for reading airplane instruments helped the pilot safely make an emergency landing, an Irish investigation concluded Wednesday.

The report by the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit into an incident in January applauded the decision-making of the pilot and the cockpit skills of the flight attendant, who stepped into the co-pilot's seat for the emergency diversion to Shannon Airport in western Ireland.

None of the 146 passengers or other nine crew members on board the Boeing 767 bound from Toronto to London was injured after the 58-year-old co-pilot had to be removed by attendants and sedated by two doctors on board.

The report did not identify any of the Air Canada crew by name. Nor did it specify the psychiatric diagnosis for the co-pilot, who was hospitalized for 11 days in Irish mental wards before being flown by air ambulance back to Canada.

It said the co-pilot was a licensed veteran with more than 6,500 hours' flying time, about half on board Boeing 767s, and had recently passed a medical examination.

But it said the pilot noticed immediately that his co-pilot was not in good professional shape on the day of the flight, arriving late to the cockpit after all the safety checks and paperwork had been completed. He reported that the co-pilot's behavior worsened once they were airborne, and the co-pilot advised him to take a lengthy break for naps and a meal.

As the aircraft reached the middle of the Atlantic, the report said, the co-pilot began talking in a "rambling and disjointed" manner, took another nap, and then refused to buckle his seat belt or observe other safety procedures when he returned to the cockpit.

The pilot concluded that his colleague was now so "belligerent and uncooperative" that he couldn't do his job.

The report said the pilot summoned several flight attendants to remove the co-pilot from the cockpit, and one flight attendant suffered an injured wrist in the struggle. Doctors from Britain and Canada on board determined that the co-pilot was confused and disoriented.

The report did not mention how the co-pilot was restrained. Departing passengers at the time said his arms and legs had been tied up to keep him under control.

The pilot then asked flight attendants to find out if any passenger was a qualified pilot. When none was found, one stewardess admitted she held a current commercial pilot's license but said her license for reading cockpit instruments had expired.

"The flight attendant provided useful assistance to the commander, who remarked in a statement to the investigation that she was `not out of place' while occupying the right-hand seat," the report said.

Official Report

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2...ped+land+plane
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