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Old May 23rd, 2009, 06:08 PM   #861
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Aeroplan and Air Canada reach deal with union over call centre workers
22 May 2009
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL _ Groupe Aeroplan (TSX:AER) said Friday that the loyalty rewards program and Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) have reached an agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union on the transition of call centre workers to Aeroplan.

Employees will transfer from the airline to Aeroplan as of June 1.

The deal was reached following mediation at the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Terms of the agreement weren't immediately available.

The CAW represents 5,000 customer service and sales agents employed by Air Canada, including those handling calls for Aeroplan.

The union said the deal covers 1,000 workers at Aeroplan and paves the way for Aeroplan to move ahead with their own staff with their own bargaining certificate.

``Workers are currently protected under the Air Canada collective agreement, however this will mean that we will be bargaining separately with this group,'' Leslie Dias, president of CAW Local 2002, which represents the airline workers, wrote in an email.

``They will not be impacted by the discussions we are currently having with Air Canada. The resulting CIRB order will end a year of acrimonious negotiations between the parties. ''
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Old May 27th, 2009, 07:54 PM   #862
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Air Canada jet aborts landing at Calgary airport


CALGARY - Passengers flying into Calgary on Tuesday experienced an unexpected delay when their jet had to abort its landing.

Air Canada flight 210 from Vancouver was on its final approach to the Calgary airport about 1:20 p. m. when air traffic controllers ordered the plane back into the air.

"We were pretty low when it happened, and when they hit the engines, those planes just take off like a rocket ship," said John Furlong, CEO of the organizing committee for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, who was aboard the flight.

"There was no panic, everyone on-board was quite calm and the pilot gave us an explanation about what happened."

An Air Canada spokeswoman said the flight was initially cleared to land, but air traffic controllers told the pilot to perform a manoeuvre called a "go around" because of congestion on the runway.

"At no time was the safety of the flight and the passengers in danger," spokeswoman Angela Mah said.

The flight landed without further incident about 1:40 p.m.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #863
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Air Canada may face cash crunch on pension payments - paper

May 28 (Reuters) - Air Canada is facing a pension payment in nine weeks that could create a cash crunch and place the airline, Canada's largest, close to breaching credit covenants, the Globe and Mail reported on Thursday.

The airline's next pension contribution, which is due on July 30, could rise to $225 million, double its previous payment, the paper said citing an aviation official.

However, the paper also said the airline might be able to defer at least part of the payment until the fall.

The paper said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick declined to comment on the next pension installment. Reuters could not immediately reach Air Canada.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 01:13 PM   #864
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WestJet in holding pattern
Hard-hit U.S. carrier delays partnership by at least a year

Canwest News Service
26 May 2009

WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s expansion plans into the United States hit a setback Monday as Southwest Airlines said it would delay the rollout of its new strategic partnership with the Calgary-based carrier until late 2010 at the earliest, about a year later than expected.

The so-called code-share agreement would have allowed the carriers to seamlessly transfer passengers onto each others' networks, essentially opening up much of the United States to WestJet and most of Canada, Hawaii and other southern destinations to Southwest.

The deal, a cornerstone of WestJet's growth strategy, was meant to be in place by the end of this year.

But after three consecutive quarterly losses, Southwest decided to put its plans with WestJet on the back burner and to refocus on driving up revenue in the near term, including implementing wireless Internet on its flights and revamping its frequent-flyer program.

"We do intend to implement the code-share with WestJet as previously planned; it's just a delay in the timing," said Brandy King, a Southwest spokeswoman. "We don't know the exact time-frame, but I would say the earliest it would be implemented would be late 2010."

The news was a blow for WestJet, which hoped the added passengers from Southwest would help fill the five new aircraft it will take delivery of at the end of the year and offset the added capacity created next winter by the recent termination of its charter agreement with Transat A.T.

Chris Murray, CIBC World Markets analyst, said in a recent note to clients that WestJet's code-share agreements are a "must" in filling that capacity.

The delay also serves as another setback to WestJet's efforts to attract corporate travellers, making its expansion to business destinations like Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Denver and Washington less viable without the added passengers from Southwest topping up its flights at those destinations.

Earlier this month, WestJet delayed the rollout of its new frequent-flyer program until the end of the year when its revamped reservation system is in place. Loyalty programs are key to attracting corporate travellers, and that delay will leave the airline without a program for at least a year and half.

Hugh Dunleavy, WestJet vice-president of commercial distribution, said he isn't worried about WestJet filling its planes, and that the added capacity will be deployed to other leisure destinations and to sunny locales through its WestJet Vacations offerings.

The delay will also see WestJet focus on the successful implementation of its smaller code-share deal with Air France/KLM by early 2010. Dunleavy said the carrier has been in talks with more than 70 other carriers interested in similar deals, and has preliminary deals with "two or three" of them.

Cathay Pacific and British Airways are expected to top the list of carriers looking for a Canadian partner that are not part of Air Canada's Star Alliance.

"It's just a question of prioritizing," Dunleavy said, adding the carrier aims to add one new partner every two or three months.

Still, the Southwest deal was expected to be its most robust, and might have amounted to $500 million in additional sales in the coming years, according to David Newman, National Bank Financial analyst.

"Collectively, all partnerships could very conservatively add upwards of close to $1 billion in revenue over time," he said in a note to clients.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #865
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Southwest delay 'tip of the iceberg' for WestJet?
26 May 2009
Canwest News Service

Southwest Airlines' decision to delay its code-share agreement with WestJet Airlines Ltd. this week highlights the inherent risks associated with the Calgary carrier launching its new reservation system, frequent flyer program, and code-share agreements in unison, according to Ben Cherniavsky, Raymond James analyst.

The analyst recently downgraded WestJet to a "market perform" rating due to the challenges associated with having all these balls up in the air at once.

"They each have the potential to generate significant strategic growth for the airline over the long-term, [but] we feel the related risks of their development not going entirely according to plan must also be factored into the risk-return equation," he said in a note to clients.

WestJet still intends to push ahead with its Air France/KLM code-share deal by early 2010, and management told the Financial Post this week that it has signed memorandums of understanding with "two or three" other carriers to strike similar deals that it plans to announce in the coming months. British Airways and Cathay Pacific are expected to be next in line.

While Mr. Cherniavsky said the delay of the Southwest deal is not "an enormously material setback" it does highlight the challenges inherent in launching such code-share agreements.

"It also, we think, begs the question: is this just the tip of the iceberg? Only time will truly tell, which is one reason why we prefer to take more of a conservative 'wait and see' approach to the stock in the near-term," he added.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 11:21 AM   #866
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 06:50 PM   #867
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WestJet warns of tough 2nd quarter on weak economy

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 3 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd warned on Wednesday about a "difficult" second quarter as ongoing economic weakness put a damper on air travel.

President and Chief Executive Sean Durfy said the airline's revenue per available seat mile (RASM) -- a key measure to compare costs across carriers -- is showing "significant declines" in the second quarter, with an expected drop of 16 percent to 18 percent year over year.

"A continued weakened economy and aggressive pricing are leading to reduced fare levels, making it a difficult quarter," Durfy said in a statement.

Shares in WestJet, Canada's No.2 airline, fell as much as 9 percent after the announcement, although one analyst said the forecast was just a short-term hiccup.

By mid-morning the shares were down C$1, or 8 percent, at C$10.94 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"While the second-quarter results will undoubtedly be weaker than previously expected, we believe that investors will look beyond the near-term revenue challenges facing the Canadian airlines," Versant Partners analyst Cameron Doerksen said.

"Indeed, we view an investment in WestJet as a good way to play an economic recovery."

Doerksen did, however, lower his target price on the airline's shares to C$15 from C$17.

WestJet, a no-frills carrier, is currently one of the few profitable airlines in North America.

"While these challenges are comparable with what the North American airline industry is experiencing, we believe we are better positioned than most to return to stronger RASM results when the economy begins to rebound," Durfy said.

WestJet also said its planes flew less full last month as its seat capacity rose and the number of paying passengers fell.

In May, WestJet's load factor, a measure of how well it filled its planes, dropped 5.4 percentage points to 74.1 percent from 79.5 percent in May 2008.

Traffic declined 5.8 percent year-over-year to 1.06 billion revenue passenger miles while the airline's seat capacity, measured in available seat miles, rose 1.2 percent to 1.4 billion over the same period.

($1=$1.09 Canadian)
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Old June 4th, 2009, 11:13 AM   #868
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Air Canada launches non-stop service between Montreal and Geneva


Air Canada has launched a new non-stop service between Montreal, Canada and Geneva, Switzerland, with same-plane service continuing on to and from Toronto.

Air Canada has said that its Star Alliance partner, Swiss International Air Lines, will offer seats on a codeshare basis on the new route.

Air Canada will operate the new Montreal-Geneva non-stop service using a 211-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

Ben Smith, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Air Canada, said: "Air Canada's new non-stop Geneva service, offered in co-operation with our Star Alliance partner, Swiss International Air Lines, will provide more choice for convenient international travel via our Montreal hub."
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Old June 4th, 2009, 12:17 PM   #869
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S&P Cuts Air Canada To Highly Speculative On Liquidity Woes
3 June 2009
Dow Jones

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services downgraded Air Canada (AC.B.T) to highly speculative territory, saying the airline's near-term efforts to boost liquidity remain uncertain.

Recent efforts to raise cash include being able to reduce by C$100 million the amount of unrestricted cash it must hold before it must provide a credit-card processor with an undisclosed amount of additional cash deposits. The minimum amount fell to C$800 million, but could have risen to C$1.3 billion by the end of June.

Air Canada held C$1 billion in cash in early May despite raising more than C$800 million in asset-backed financings the past few months.

S&P credit analyst Greg Pau said Wednesday the one-notch downgrade to CCC+ stems from the ratings agency's opinion that potential liquidity boosts are contingent on a number of factors and that the outcomes "remain uncertain."

S&P expects Air Canada to need more capital in the coming months to meet the minimum cash balances. Among the issues facing the carrier is the potential of C$570 million in pension payments this year.

Also a factor in the downgrade is the continued drop in traffic impacting Air Canada and the industry as a whole.

S&P has a negative ratings outlook on the company, meaning more cuts aren't out of the question. It doesn't expect to move the outlook back to stable this year unless an investor injects capital into the highly leveraged airline. Meanwhile, another downgrade could come if Air Canada doesn't appear to be able to keep its cash levels above the minimum requirement.

Class B shares of Air Canada were recently down 2.1% at C$1.37 in Toronto. The stock is down 85% the past year.
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Old June 5th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #870
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Air Canada mediator no stranger to hardball
Former Ontario Superior Court judge tapped to strike new pension financing deal between airline and union

5 June 2009
The Globe and Mail

When Air Canada's AC.B-T bid to survive bankruptcy protection was threatened by squabbling creditors in 2004, then Ontario Superior Court Justice James Farley fired off one of his trademark ultimatums to break the stalemate.

Unless the feuding creditors struck a deal within a few days, the judge warned a crowded courtroom of lawyers, they would be hauled back in front of him at dawn on a Sunday morning and he would issue a decision that nobody wanted to hear.

“The inference was that he would pull the plug … and the whole restructuring would collapse,” recalls Bruce Leonard, a restructuring specialist with Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP who acted for the airline's secured lenders. “By 3:24 a.m. on Sunday we had a deal.”

Such hardball tactics earned Mr. Farley, who retired from the bench in 2006, a reputation as one of the country's toughest and hardest-working bankruptcy judges. His ability to squeeze concessions from sparring creditors, company executives and workers was instrumental to the rebirth of basket cases such as Air Canada and Stelco Inc.

Now Ottawa wants Mr. Farley, 68, to practise his tough love again. This time, the McCarthy Tétrault LLP lawyer has been tapped by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as a mediator to strike a new pension financing deal between Air Canada and its employee union, the Canadian Auto Workers.

The stakes couldn't be bigger. The struggling airline warns it will run out of cash unless it is given an extension of several more years to replenish a $2.9-billion shortfall in its employee pension plan. Lining up behind Air Canada are several other federally regulated companies that are also turning to Ottawa for assistance with pension shortfalls. If Mr. Farley can't help fix the airline, the Harper government is facing a potentially messy political problem.

“It's going to be very tense. He brings a lot to this serious issue and I think the various parties will pay attention to him because he knows the issues better than anybody,” said Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler, who was appointed by Mr. Farley in 2004 to mediate labour issues at Air Canada.

“The pension issues facing Air Canada and a lot of other companies are ‘front burner' for the government. Jim Farley is obviously very capable and experienced, and he will be determined to find a solution,” said Brett Ledger, a pension specialist with Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

For all his experience and determination, however, Mr. Farley will be operating without the judicial gown and gavel that gave him the clout to ride herd on opposing parties in bankruptcy court.

“Was he given a magic wand?” Mr. Leonard wondered.

Adds Mr. Ledger: “He might find that it is a different, and perhaps more difficult, dynamic when he is not wearing his judicial robes.”

Despite the lack of judicial clout, Mr. Farley carries one major advantage into the Air Canada pension negotiations: He has irked so many players over the years with his strong-arm tactics that no one can accuse him of favouring any side.

Indeed, sources say that Air Canada's current chief executive officer, Calin Rovinescu, had a falling out with Mr. Farley in 2004 after Hong Kong businessman Victor Li walked away from a plan to make a life-saving investment in the airline while it was under bankruptcy protection. Mr. Farley, according to sources, was furious with Air Canada executives over Mr. Li's retreat because they had assured the judge that Mr. Li's offer was the best of a number of potential offers. Shortly after the deal collapsed, Mr. Rovinescu resigned. He returned to Air Canada earlier this year to lead the company through its current crisis.

“Calin will not be jumping up and down for joy over this appointment,” said one person close to Mr. Rovinescu.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #871
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WestJet ‘not bullet-proof'
4 June 2009
The Globe and Mail

The first recession in its 13-year history is cramping WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s WJA-T free-wheeling style and forcing it to adopt a hiring freeze.

WestJet, which takes pride in its upbeat corporate culture, didn't lay off employees after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and even added staff in 2002 and subsequent years. But the recession of 2009 is another story, spurring a sense of urgency to slash costs.

“It is ugly – a recession that none of us have experienced in our lifetime,” chief executive officer Sean Durfy said in an internal memo to WestJet's 7,500 employees, detailing a new cost-cutting program designed to chop $25-million in expenses over the next six months.

“Given the state of the economy, for the time being, we will no longer be hiring externally.”

As travel demand slumps, WestJet's planes are departing with more empty seats, pressuring management to tighten belts, including introducing early retirement packages and deferring aircraft painting.

In a place where teamwork is emphasized and perkiness is encouraged, the harsh reality of tough times is sending ripples across the company, where departments carry offbeat labels – with human resources named People, executive offices called Big Shots, accounting is Beanland and reception is Welcoming Team.

Founded in 1996, the Calgary-based company has grown steadily and still intends to protect its track record of never issuing layoff notices, even as it struggles to fill planes. WestJet said yesterday that last month's load factor, the proportion of seats filled by paying passengers, fell to 74.1 per cent from 79.5 per cent a year earlier, and was the lowest May load factor since 2005. Traffic fell 5.8 per cent to 1.06 billion revenue passenger miles.

WestJet's unit revenue – a key industry measure of improvement stated in revenue per available seat mile (RASM) – is forecast to decline 16 to 18 per cent in the second quarter from the same period last year. Fare wars against Air Canada AC.B-T have contributed to the lower RASM.

“These results are showing that we are not bullet-proof. We can run one of the best airlines in the world and still be affected by what's going on in the global economy,” Mr. Durfy said in his memo, which began with a “Hey Gang” greeting.

Other WestJet cost-cutting initiatives include a 25-per-cent reduction in travel, training and entertainment budgets, deferred spending on non-essential information technology upgrades, optional unpaid leave and decreased commissions to travel agents to 4 per cent from 9 per cent effective July 1, Mr. Durfy said.

“This is the next challenge in front of us that will test the WestJet spirit. I have no doubt we will succeed,” he said.

He noted that he is optimistic about the carrier's long-term prospects, but acknowledged some short-term pain. “The 10,000-pound elephant in the room, however, is the economy,” Mr. Durfy wrote. “The result of the recession is that our revenues are not growing at the rate we would have hoped. RASM is falling significantly below where we have been over the last couple of years despite our best efforts to stimulate demand and earn increased market share.”

WestJet's first-quarter profit fell 29 per cent to $37.4-million, and it's expected to post another profit in the second quarter, in contrast to money-losing Air Canada. Montreal-based Air Canada, which is expected to release its May traffic results this week, saw its April load factor fall to 81.1 per cent from 82.7 per cent, including travellers on its Jazz affiliate.

Air Canada held talks with its unions yesterday on finding ways to avert a pension plan crisis.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #872
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Battle lines set over ACE cash pile
6 June 2009
The Globe and Mail

Robert Milton has quietly acquired a large block of shares in Air Canada's AC.B-T parent company, putting the ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. ACE.B-T chairman on a collision course with two major ACE shareholders over funding the airline.

Montreal-based ACE, which owns 75 per cent of Air Canada, had $373-million in cash at the end of April – money that Air Canada's unions argue should go toward easing the carrier's cash crunch.

Mr. Milton is known to want to assist Air Canada with a potential cash injection or loan, and his significant stake in ACE class B voting shares will give him a chance to influence the outcome, an industry official said yesterday.

But Toronto-based West Face Capital Inc. and British-based Marathon Asset Management – two of ACE's largest common shareholders, with mostly ACE class A shares that carry reduced voting rights – have said they think there are better ways to use the cash, including distributing some of the money to ACE common shareholders.

West Face CEO Gregory Boland had been seeking to oust Mr. Milton and other directors from ACE's board. In ACE's management proxy circular issued late yesterday, Mr. Boland is listed as one of three new nominees on the board.

The other two nominees are Genuity Capital Markets CEO David Kassie and Robert MacLellan, chief investment officer at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Mr. Boland couldn't be reached for comment yesterday, but in a statement earlier this year, he said West Face would “pursue the replacement of ACE Aviation's board” at the annual meeting on June 26 in Montreal.

The circular said Mr. Milton has declined to take $4.2-million in cash for after-tax severance and benefits due to him, electing instead to “acquire and retain 784,350 class B voting shares of ACE” on May 22. The shares were granted with an exercise price of $5.34, “equal to the market price determined under the terms of the stock option plan.” He now holds 808,686 ACE class B shares.

Last year, Mr. Milton collected $6.56-million for his total ACE pay package, including a $1.2-million salary and $5-million in other compensation related to the process of winding down ACE, the circular said. He received a further $5-million in February, 2009. Those two instalments totalling $10-million were first disclosed last year as payments that would be made to him.

ACE was created in 2004, after Air Canada emerged from 18 months of bankruptcy protection. Where ACE's cash ends up will be watched closely by labour leaders, who say the debt-laden airline needs help from its parent to cope with Air Canada's $2.9-billion pension solvency deficit.

Calin Rovinescu, a Genuity co-founder, replaced Montie Brewer as Air Canada's CEO on April 1.

Mr. Brewer had $2.1-million in total compensation last year, according to the circular.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 05:04 PM   #873
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Air Canada parent says airline will survive

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Reuters) - Air Canada 's parent company ACE Aviation Holdings Inc said on Monday that the troubled airline would survive.

"I firmly believe Air Canada will survive," said Robert Milton, CEO of ACE, at the annual International Air Transport Authority's general meeting. "But it's a volatile business."

The Canadian government has appointed a mediator to try to settle disagreements between Air Canada and its unions and retirees over the future of the airline's pension plan.

A solution to pension funding woes and concessions from unions are seen as crucial to keeping Air Canada from filing for bankruptcy protection for the second time in six years.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 05:42 AM   #874
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I think Air Canada flew to MEL once, can someone please confrim this?

Lovin the AC tail!
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Old June 9th, 2009, 04:54 PM   #875
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Air Canada reaches tentative agreements with 3 unions

June 9 (Reuters) - Air Canada said it reached tentative agreements with three of its unions on contracts and pensions as the airline battles a cash shortage and tough competition amid the industry's worst ever downturn.

Air Canada's agreement with CALDA, the CAW and the IAMAW, was also signed by the Air Canada Pionairs, an association that serves over 15,000 retirees of Air Canada and its predecessor airlines, the company said in a statement.

Air Canada drew complaints last month when it asked unions to support a moratorium on funding its C$2.85 billion ($2.55 billion) pension deficit.

The Canadian government then appointed a mediator to try to settle the disagreements between the country's largest carrier and its unions and retirees.

A solution to the pension funding woes and concessions from unions are considered crucial to keeping Air Canada from filing for bankruptcy protection for the second time in six years.

Current service payments will continue to be made in the normal course and there will be no change to the defined benefit plans, nor a reduction in benefits, Air Canada said.

To assure labour stability, the three unions agreed to extend or renew the terms of their collective agreements for 21 months from the expiry of the current agreements in 2009, with a provision for no strike or lockout.

The terms of the extension agreement specify that there will be no changes to wage rates and pension benefit levels during the extension period, the company said.

"Agreements with ACPA and CUPE are still outstanding and we need the approval of the Federal Government to the Moratorium," Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

Shares of the company closed at C$1.40 Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=1.118 Canadian Dollar)
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Old June 13th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #876
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Air Canada executives okay pay freeze

Concession tabled as incentive to persuade airline workers to ratify tentative labour deal.


TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

Air Canada's AC.B-T top executives have agreed to a pay freeze until 2011 as part of a deal designed to forge labour peace, while the company's unions are set to receive airline shares earmarked for pension financing.

Union leaders had been worried that lingering resentment about executive compensation - in particular the millions of dollars paid to Robert Milton, head of the carrier's parent company - would spur workers to refuse to ratify the tentative labour pact. But curbing executive pay might ease the discontent of employees who are also being asked to accept wage freezes.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers will tell its members at ratification meetings to set aside their animosity and focus on the positives in the deal - notably unions being awarded shares to be credited to the pension plan, said Chuck Atkinson, president of IAMAW District 140.

While details have yet to be finalized, Air Canada's top officers would see their salaries frozen - with no bonuses - until the spring of 2011, coinciding with the union members' wage freeze. As well, there would be no improvements to executive pension plan benefits through 2013.

The IAMAW is urging employees to ratify the tentative agreement and help cash-strapped Air Canada avoid filing for bankruptcy protection.

The Canadian Auto Workers, the Canadian Air Line Dispatchers Association and the IAMAW are supporting management's proposal for the company to defer most of its pension contributions until the spring of 2011.

The Air Canada Pilots Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents flight attendants, remain in contract talks with management.

The proposed pension-funding moratorium must still be approved by Ottawa.

On April 1, Calin Rovinescu took over as Air Canada chief executive officer from Montie Brewer, whose salary last year was $751,500. Mr. Rovinescu will keep his one million stock options at an exercise price of 97 cents apiece, granted last month.

Mr. Milton, chairman and CEO of Air Canada's parent, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., garnered ACE compensation totalling $68-million from 2005 through 2008. His package included $20-million in stock option gains and a $5-million payment last June for guiding the eventual shutdown of ACE. He received a further $5-million from ACE in February, 2009.

"Milton still wears the devil horns, and you can be angry all you want with him and other executives, but it's not going to change the past," Mr. Atkinson said in an interview yesterday.

But looking ahead, the unions obtained a 21-month cap on executive compensation - an important management concession, given the wage sacrifices made by employees, he said.

Because he heads ACE, Mr. Milton would not be covered by the executive freeze, but he previously agreed to a pay formula for 2009 that will effectively mean a reduction from last year's $1.2-million ACE salary.

Mr. Milton declined to comment yesterday, but some industry observers have countered that he made Air Canada more competitive by overseeing the investment of billions of dollars in new aircraft, and ACE posted a $248-million gain from selling a stake in US Airways Group Inc. In June, 2003, two months after Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection, Mr. Milton took a 15-per-cent pay cut and also agreed to a 5-per-cent drop in 2004.

Mr. Atkinson said many Air Canada employees lost thousands of dollars when their airline shares became worthless in 2004 as the company restructured under bankruptcy protection.

Because bad memories persist, the IAMAW is emphasizing that workers won't personally hold Air Canada shares, but the stock to be granted to unions would flow into the pension plan, which has a $2.9-billion solvency deficit.

The number of shares to be distributed has yet to be determined. An industry official said preliminary indications are that the equity stakes for the five unions combined could be 10 per cent, but the pilots and flight attendants are still discussing the matter.
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Old June 14th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #877
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^ The article was taken from the 12 June edition of the Globe and Mail, a leading Canadian newspaper. Please source your posts properly.
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Old June 16th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #878
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Air Canada, unions ink deal on pension funding

June 16 (Reuters) - Air Canada said it has completed tentative agreements with all its unionized workforce in the country on a pension funding moratorium.

The cash-strapped carrier reached agreements on a 21-month pension funding moratorium and on labour stability with the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Canada's largest airline said the agreements call for 15 percent equity ownership of the company to be issued to a trust for the benefit of unionized employees, with proceeds of a sale to be contributed to the pension plan deficit.

The company said pension agreements also include a moratorium on past service contributions for a 21-month period and fixed payments of $150 million, $175 million, and $225 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.

ACPA represents about 3,200 pilots and CUPE represents about 6,700 flight attendants.

Air Canada, which is looking to secure financing to help it ride out one of the worst downturns in the airline industry's history, reached tentative deals with three of its unions last week. Air Canada's class A shares closed flat at C$1.45 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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Old June 17th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #879
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Air Canada Cancels Flights From Vancouver To Asia Due To Russian Volcano Eruption

AHN Staff
Vancouver, British Columbia (AHN) - Air Canada canceled on Monday three flights from Vancouver to Asia because of the volcanic eruption of the Sarychev Peak, which sent into the air eight kilometers high of ash.

The volcanic activity, which started Thursday, forced the cancellation of the air carrier's Vancouver-Tokyo, Vancouver-Shanghai and Vancouver-Seoul round-trip flights. An Air Canada spokeswoman said trips to Hong Kong are not affected, but the airline is unsure yet if it could resume air trips by Tuesday.

According to Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah, air passengers affected by the trip cancellation have the choice of rebooking their flights at another date or refunding their tickets with no penalty.

Sarychev Peak is found in Matua Island in the north Pacific Ocean. It is not habited. Marine Geology and Geophysics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences spokeswoman Olga Shestakova said the ash cloud spread 310 kilometers to the west.

Shestakova said, quoted by The Province, "Information on the eruption has been sent to organizations dealing with the safety of airplanes and ships, as the ash presents a threat to airplane engines and may lead to communication systems failures."

Matua is part of the Kuril Islands which is known for active volcanoes. The Kuril Islands spans northeast from Hokkaido Island in Japan to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.

According to the Earth Observatory of NASA, the volcano spewed alternating layers of solidified ash, hardened lava and rocks. The peak has a history of eruptions since the 18th century with a wide range of intensity from lava flows to massive eruptions.
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Old June 17th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #880
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Air Canada seeks C$200m from government

By Christopher Mason

Published: June 16 2009 23:23 | Last updated: June 16 2009 23:23

Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, has asked the Canadian government for a loan of at least C$200m ($176m) as it attempts to meet capital requirements to stay in business.

One of the most imminent threats facing Air Canada is a demand by one of its credit-card processors that the company maintains a minimum C$800m net cash balance at the end of June.

If it cannot satisfy that requirement, the carrier could lose further deposits from the processor, which would further cut into cash reserves.

Air Canada had identified the requirement as key to stabilising the company’s finances.

“Air Canada has had some discussions with Export Development Canada about possibly borrowing on commercial terms, but those are discussions that are ongoing,” said Jim Flaherty, Canadian finance minister,on Tuesday.

At the end of April the company had C$1bn in net cash, down nearly C$100m from a month earlier, and it has also been asked to boost liquidity as a proportion of annual operating revenues at a rate that would increase net cash to about C$1.7bn.

This requirement was the result of a deal struck with the last of its five major unions on a 21-month moratorium on funding its C$2.9bn pension deficit. In exchange, the unions will get equity in the company.

Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada chief executive, who took the post in April, said the pension relief and union concessions were “critically important steps that will enhance Air Canada’s ability to obtain additional financing to manage through the recession.”

Airline analysts said the prospect of government backing, union deals and pension moratorium had made it less likely that Air Canada would be forced to seek bankruptcy protection.

But with more than C$600m in debt repayments to be made this year, rising jet fuel costs and falling revenues, the financing is crucial to Air Canada’s efforts to stay afloat.

Air Canada’s first-quarter net loss widened 39 per cent from the same quarter last year to C$400m and operating revenues dropped more than 12 per cent to C$2.39bn due in part to a 10.9 per cent drop in air traffic.

At the end of the first quarter, Air Canada reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rent of C$57m, down 74.3 per cent from the same period last year.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009
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