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Old June 22nd, 2009, 06:30 PM   #881
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Air Canada, flight attendants agree to extend deal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 22 (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Monday it has reached agreement with its flight attendants on an extension to their labor agreement, a deal crucial for the cash-strapped airline as it tries to line up financing and stave off bankruptcy.

Canada's biggest airline said it and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, or CUPE, had tentatively agreed to extend their collective agreement for 21 months -- the same deal Air Canada struck with its other four unions.

CUPE, which represents 6,700 flight attendants, was the last union Air Canada needed to reach a deal with. The carrier has also reached agreements with all its unions on a 21-month moratorium on funding a shortfall in its pension plan.

"These tentative agreements will allow us to move forward to the next milestones: obtaining the necessary governmental measures and approvals for the pension funding arrangement and raising new financing," Air Canada Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu said in a statement.

"Discussions are ongoing with several potential lenders," he said. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Peter Galloway)
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 06:38 PM   #882
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AC Air Canada starts daily non-stop Montreal-Rome flights
22 June 2009
Canada Stockwatch
Monday June 22 2009 - News Release

Air Canada inaugurates today daily non-stop flights between Montreal and Rome. During this summer's peak travel season, this service will link on a daily basis the Italian capital with Air Canada's extensive Quebec and Atlantic Canada network, as well as major cities on the Eastern United States seaboard. Starting Oct. 27, 2009, Air Canada will offer year-round Montreal-Rome flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with same-plane service continuing on to/from Toronto.

"This is great news for Montreal's Italian community and travellers in Atlantic Canada and the United States who will benefit from year-round direct service and substantial time savings," said Ben Smith, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer. "The inauguration of our year-round non-stop service between Montreal and Rome strengthens Air Canada's commitment to offer convenient flights from Montreal to key international destinations. Air Canada's superior schedule, product offering and loyalty benefits through Aeroplan clearly make Air Canada the airline of choice for customers."

For greater convenience and travel choice, this service is timed to offer connecting flights to popular destinations in Italy, including Bari, Lamezia, Milan, Palermo and Venice. As well, Air Canada's Star Alliance partners Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines offer service from Montreal to Munich and Zurich respectively, further increasing connections and travel options.

"Given the popularity of Rome as a summer and business travel destination, we are pleased Air Canada will provide year-round direct access to Italy," said James Cherry, president and chief executive officer at Aeroports de Montreal.

Air Canada's Montreal-Rome non-stop service will be operated using a newly refurbished 211-seat Boeing 767-300 ER aircraft offering a choice of economy class and executive first service featuring 24 lie flat-bed suites. Further details and a virtual tour of Air Canada's new cabin amenities, including personal seatback entertainment at every seat, are available at the company website.

This summer Air Canada will have increased capacity across the Atlantic from Montreal by 35 per cent year over year, with non-stop service to five European gateway cities including London, Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva and Rome. With the addition of three new destinations this year, Geneva, Fort de France, Martinique and the return of Rome service, Air Canada offers non-stop service from Montreal to 50 destinations. As well, Air Canada's Star Alliance partners Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines offer service from Montreal to Munich and Zurich respectively, further increasing connections and travel options.
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Old June 26th, 2009, 04:49 AM   #883
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By twwong from HKADB :

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Old June 29th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #884
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Self-serve baggage check-in gets green light
26 June 2009
Calgary Herald

Airline passengers could be checking their own bags at airports across the country, as Ottawa gives the green light to the latest self-serve process aimed at reducing wait times and increasing operator efficiencies.

Federal approval for self-serve baggage tagging permits passengers to print their own baggage tags at airport kiosks and affix them to their checked luggage, eliminating the need to wait in long lines for airline employees to do the task.

The system is also designed to maintain high levels of security and oversight, Federal Transport Minister John Baird said Thursday.

"This innovative approach, a first in North America, is a positive move for travellers, air carriers and airports," Baird said as he announced the approval.

The self-serve system will be rolled out at airports across Canada in co-operation with airlines and local airport authorities.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is now using the system in Montreal and has plans to have it in place at all large Canadian cities, including Calgary, before the end of 2010.

"Calgary is a top priority for us," said Dale Tinevez, WestJet's vice-president of guest services.

Air Canada's introduction date for the service in Calgary is to be announced soon, said spokeswoman Angela Mah.

Consumer groups were quick to pan the move.

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, said consumers complain the self-baggage system is a burden and annoying.

"What they're saying to us is, 'If we're doing all of this stuff that we never used to before, including lumping our bags around, where's the savings in it for consumers?" he said.
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Old July 1st, 2009, 08:29 AM   #885
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Air Canada machinists reject pension deal, union says

TORONTO, June 30 (Reuters) - Members of Air Canada's largest union rejected the carrier's plan to suspend pension funding for nearly two years, complicating the cash-strapped airline's efforts to steady its finances, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

A slim majority of mechanics, baggage handlers, cargo agents and electricians narrowly voted against a proposed 21-month agreement that would have frozen their wages and put a moratorium on pension funding, the Globe and Mail said on its website.

Bill Trbovich, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told the newspaper that 50.8 percent of the members voted against a tentative pact that labor leaders had urged the rank and file to accept.

Trbovich said the vote threatens to delay efforts by Air Canada, a unit of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc , to gain federal approval for a 21-month deferral of its pension plan.

A suspension of payments is necessary for the airline to avoid filing bankruptcy protection for a second time in six years, analysts say.

Air Canada has said that labor peace is crucial if it hopes to line up fresh financing to make its debt payments while riding out a sharp global slowdown in travel.

Earlier this month, the airline reached a tentative agreement with flight attendants, the last of its big unions to accept the moratorium on funding a C$2.9 billion shortfall in its pension plan.

The vote on Tuesday could embolden members of other unions to reject agreements negotiated by their leaders.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 08:24 AM   #886
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Aeroplan to launch Italian expansion
Customer-loyalty firm to lend $100 million to struggling Air Canada

346 words
1 July 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 The Toronto Star

Loyalty program Groupe Aeroplan Inc. is continuing its aggressive international expansion while its former owner and key partner, Air Canada, is struggling to stay aloft amid the current economic downturn.

In a move that highlights the differing fortunes of the two businesses, Aeroplan said yesterday it is planning to spend about $24 million to launch a new coalition loyalty program in Italy next year.

Aeroplan said it has already signed up several retail partners for the program, which will be 75 per cent owned by Aeroplan and is to be modelled after the company's Nectar program in the United Kingdom.

"We have publicly stated that we intend to grow our core business offering and I am delighted that we are making good progress in executing this strategy in Italy," Rupert Duchesne, Aeroplan's chief executive, said in a statement.

JoAnne Hayes, an Aeroplan spokeswoman, said the company is also looking for other European markets suitable for expansion.

Aeroplan purchased the U.K.'s Nectar program two years ago for $754 million.

Originally conceived as an Air Canada frequent-flyer program, Aeroplan was spun off by airline parent ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. four years ago. Critics have suggested that the move caused permanent damage to Air Canada by removing an important cash cushion.

Details about Aeroplan's expansion came just one day after the loyalty program revealed it would lend $100 million to Air Canada, which is struggling to avoid a liquidity crunch brought on by the weak economy and rising cash obligations. The loan is secured against the airline's vacation division.

Air Canada is also seeking another $600 million in loans as part of agreements it recently struck with its employee unions. In exchange, the unions agreed to a 21-month moratorium on payments to the company's pension plans.

Two of the airline's five unions have ratified the agreement, which also needs approval by the airline's retirees.
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Old July 2nd, 2009, 06:20 PM   #887
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Old July 3rd, 2009, 08:27 PM   #888
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Air Canada workers target Vancouver Olympics for strike
Mechanics defy own union in rejecting offer

2 July 2009
The Globe and Mail

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics have become a bargaining chip at Air Canada as the country's largest airline tries to overcome labour strife and avoid filing for bankruptcy protection.

Air Canada mechanics and technical staff, worried about losing their jobs to El Salvador, narrowly voted down a tentative 21-month labour pact that had been recommended by union negotiators, throwing the cash-strapped carrier's recovery strategy into jeopardy.

Chuck Atkinson, president of the union's District 140, said his members are hoping that the airline will offer job protection in return for labour peace during the Winter Games in February, 2010.

“It might be a black eye for Canada if there were a strike during the Olympics or if Air Canada went into bankruptcy protection before then,” Mr. Atkinson said in an interview.

The surprise rejection of the labour pact thwarts Air Canada's plans to ask Ottawa for pension relief and blocks $600-million in loans required to avoid a filing for bankruptcy protection for the second time in six years. Export Development Canada, a federal Crown corporation, had been expected to lend about $250-million to help the airline survive the recession.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said yesterday that it will return to the bargaining table later this week, with the aid of federally appointed mediator James Farley, a former Ontario judge.

Members of the IAMAW's largest bargaining unit will be asked to vote again, assuming the mediator is able to persuade negotiators to agree on a revised collective agreement.

Lorne Hammerberg, president of IAMAW Local 714, said many employees believe Air Canada is ignoring the contentious issue of whether aircraft repairs and maintenance will be shifted to El Salvador, where a sister company of Air Canada operates. Mr. Hammerberg said the union would gain bargaining clout as the Games approach.

“Air Canada is an Olympic sponsor, and our members wonder if it wants the 21-month contract to counter any labour dispute during the Games. It wouldn't be just about Air Canada. All the eyes of the world would be upon us, and a labour disruption would be the last thing both the company and Canadian government would want.”

Montreal-based Air Canada declined to comment on a potential walkout, but in a statement, the carrier said that given the voting results, “the company and the IAMAW will meet promptly to discuss next steps in the process.”

The “Official Airline” of the 2010 Games needs the support of all of its unions to ask Ottawa for permission to skip a $100-million pension payment due on July 30, another $60-million due on Aug. 14 and suspend further contributions until April 30, 2011. Air Canada faces a $615-million pension bill this year, but wants to defer $355-million of its scheduled contributions.

Vancouver organizers said last night that “it would be inappropriate to comment on internal discussions under way at the airline. Air Canada is a strong partner for the 2010 Winter Games and we have full confidence in their partnership with us.”

Air Canada is in talks to borrow $600-million, but the lenders first want assurances that the airline has been granted relief in reducing its $2.9-billion pension solvency deficit, the carrier said in a letter this week to retirees.

“The federal government is concerned about the Air Canada situation and is monitoring it closely,” a spokesman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in a statement last night.

The IAMAW's technical, maintenance and operational support unit voted 50.8 per cent against a pact that would have frozen their wages until March 31, 2011. Mechanics, baggage handlers, cargo agents and electricians are part of the unit, which has more than 11,000 members.

The previous six-year labour contract expired Tuesday, and IAMAW negotiators had urged members to ratify the proposed 21-month collective agreement.

But shop stewards in Montreal disagreed, telling employees to vote against the deal. The Montreal district's strong No vote was enough to offset support in other parts of Canada, and the Quebeckers also benefited from a low voter turnout of well under 50 per cent nationally, union sources said.

“Some workers figured if they're going to lose their jobs, they may as well take the company down with them,” said one union representative.

Aveos Fleet Performance Inc., formerly named Air Canada Technical Services, has more than 1,400 employees in San Salvador. An Aveos spokesman said in an interview two weeks ago that there are no plans to transfer Air Canada plane repair contracts out of Canada.

Two smaller IAMAW units, with roughly 600 workers combined, overwhelmingly supported their proposed contracts, with finance staff voting 87.5 per cent in favour and clerical workers voting 93.2 per cent to ratify.

While the largest IAMAW unit rejected its tentative deal, if the votes of all three units are combined, then there would be a narrow approval of the pension funding moratorium, said one industry official, warning that a filing for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act is edging closer.

“If the mechanics refuse to see the facts, the airline might not survive until the Olympics. The easiest thing for management to do is to file for CCAA, but the losers would be the pensioners and employees,” the official said.
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Old July 4th, 2009, 08:29 AM   #889
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Job security key issue in Air Canada labor talks

OTTAWA, July 3 (Reuters) - Air Canada's biggest union may push for additional job security in labor talks with the debt-heavy airline and a federally appointed mediator on Friday, but it doesn't expect a quick resolution.

Senior negotiators from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, whose members narrowly rejected a 21-month deal with the carrier this week, are meeting with Canada's biggest airline and mediator James Farley, a union spokesman said.

Mechanics are worried their aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul work will be transferred to Aveos Fleet Performance Inc in El Salvador, a sister company previously called Air Canada Technical Services that was spun off in 2007.

"What these guys are afraid of is that the work is going to go to this company called Aveos," said IAMAW spokesman Bill Trbovich.

"As it stands now, Aveos does not have the capability to do that work, but there's nothing stopping them from building a hangar to do that. And what we want is assurances that they're not going to take that work out of the country."

Air Canada parent ACE Aviation owns a 27.8 percent stake in privately held Aveos, which has 1,400 staff in El Salvador and 3,300 in Canada.

The union may also push for job security beyond 2011, or the 21-month term in the current contract, he said.

Union support is critical for the cash-strapped airline to gain federal approval for a temporary freeze on pension funding and C$600 million ($517 million) in short-term loans.

Analysts say that labor peace, a moratorium on funding Air Canada's C$2.9 billion pension deficit and fresh financing are essential for the company to avoid filing for bankruptcy for the second time in six years.

There are more than 11,000 technical, maintenance, and operational services workers in the bargaining unit, which voted 50.8 percent against Air Canada's latest offer. Smaller clerical and finance units were strongly in favor of ratification.

Air Canada said on Friday that it would not comment on the current labor talks. After markets closed on Thursday, the company said it would meet with senior union leadership to "achieve a successful conclusion".

It is safe to assume that talks will continue through the weekend, Trbovich said.

"We've got to go back and we've got to come up with something that makes it different from the last time in order for people to buy it. And that's the challenge," he said.

"We also have to do it on a (cost-neutral basis), because there isn't any money in the bank. So that makes it a little bit tougher."

Union members are "leery" of the company after making concessions in their last agreement that amounted to a 30 percent pay cut, he added.

Two unions that represent customer service staff and dispatchers have already ratified 21-month agreements.

Members of unions that represent flight attendants and pilots expect to conclude voting on July 12 and know the results the following day.

Air Canada shares were unchanged at C$1.44 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.

($1=$1.16 Canadian)
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Old July 6th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #890
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Air Canada union to re-vote on contract

TORONTO, July 6 (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Monday that some 12,000 union workers will re-vote on a new contract after the union and the Canadian carrier amended the terms of an agreement over the weekend.

The original agreement, which provided for a tentative pension funding moratorium as well as labor stability agreements, was narrowly rejected by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers last week.

Mechanics fear aircraft maintenance and repair work will be transferred to Aveos Fleet Performance Inc in El Salvador, a sister company previously called Air Canada Technical Services that was spun off in 2007.

Air Canada parent ACE Aviation owns a 27.8 percent stake in privately held Aveos, which has 1,400 staff in El Salvador and 3,300 in Canada.

Two unions that represent customer service staff and dispatchers have already ratified 21-month agreements, while the unions representing flight attendants and pilots are expected to vote next week.

The agreements are subject to a number of conditions including ratification by the unions, the Canadian government's approval of the company's amended pension funding rules and Air Canada raising a minimum C$600 million ($515 million) in new financing. ($1=$1.16 Canadian)
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Old July 7th, 2009, 07:08 AM   #891
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WestJet, Air Canada loads down in June

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 6 (Reuters) - Canada's two largest airlines, WestJet Airlines Ltd and Air Canada said on Monday their planes flew less full in June amid a recession-driven slowdown in air travel.

WestJet said its load factor, the percentage of available seats that are filled with paying passengers, fell to 72.9 percent in June from 76.5 percent in the same month last year.

Demand for air travel, measured in revenue passenger miles, decreased 7.1 percent year-over-year to 1.03 billion, while capacity, measured in available seat miles, declined 2.5 percent over the same period to 1.41 billion.

"We anticipate second-quarter revenue per available seat mile to be in line with our original expectations of a second-quarter year-over-year decline of 16 to 18 per cent," WestJet President and Chief Executive Sean Durfy said.

Air Canada, the No. 1 carrier, said its load factor of 80.9 percent on a consolidated basis with its Jazz regional unit was down from the 82.2 percent it had a year ago. Load on mainline flights was 82.2 percent compared with 83.1 percent in June 2008.

System traffic decreased 9.1 percent on a capacity reduction of 7.6 percent system wide, Air Canada said.

The June load factor for WestJet was a little below his forecast, Versant Partners analyst Cameron Doerksen said but he remained optimistic on the outlook for the carrier.

"We believe that investors will look beyond the near-term revenue challenges facing the company and that the stock will rebound as an economic recovery takes hold," Doerksen said in a note to clients.

He has a "buy" recommendation on WestJet's stock, with a one-year target price of C$15.

WestJet's shares were down 35 Canadian cents at C$10.45 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday afternoon, in line with an overall weaker market.

The Calgary, Alberta-based airline also said it had bought out the lease of an 800-series aircraft that it took delivery of in early 2009.

Durfy said it was a good use of some of the airline's cash, which was not enjoying high returns in the current low interest rate environment.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 09:12 AM   #892
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WestJet to lead recovery next year
7 July 2009
National Post

Canada's top budget air carrier WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA/TSX) released disappointing June load factor results Monday, but Versant Partners is looking ahead to the expected 2010 recovery and expects the airline to lead the way.

WestJet reported a load factor of 72.9% for June, less than the 76.5% posted in the same period last year. Overall second-quarter results came in at 76.1%, also less than the 79.5% recorded in 2008 and behind Versant's forecast of 77%.

Cameron Doerksen, transportation analyst with Versant Partners, said losses now will be recovered when an economic recovery takes hold.

"We view an investment in WestJet as a good way to play an economic recovery," he said in a note Monday. "If one believes that the economy will show some signs of life later this year, then WestJet will be a direct beneficiary."

In the meantime, investors should keep any eye out for WestJet's second-quarter results in August.

Versant maintains a "buy" rating on the airline, with a one-year price target of $15.

Meanwhile, Air Canada reported a load factor of 80.9% on a consolidated basis with Jazz for the month of June, versus 82.2% in June 2008, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points. System traffic decreased 9.1% on a capacity reduction of 7.6%t system wide.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 01:23 PM   #893
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Air Canada says still confident in lender talks

RICHMOND, British Columbia, July 8 (Reuters) - Air Canada is finding some support from lenders as it struggles to solve its financial Rubik's Cube, the cash-strapped airline's chief executive said on Wednesday.

Tight credit markets have complicated discussions with the lenders that Canada's largest airline has approached for short-term financing, Calin Rovinescu told reporters.

"There is a certain level of support. We have some very specific targets of what we need to raise as far as capital. We continue to be confident, but the discussions are ongoing," he said.

The airline was also able to offer some "clarifications" in weekend talks with its largest union, which recently voted down a tentative contract deal, but is scheduled to hold another vote next week, Rovinescu said.

Rovinescu declined to give specifics on the labor talks, citing the ongoing ratification vote. Members of the 12,300-member machinists union narrowly rejected a tentative deal last week amid fears about job security.

Labor peace at the airline is critical to it securing government approval of a moratorium on payments into its pension fund and a deal with the lenders -- a situation Rovinescu compared to a Rubik's Cube puzzle.

"To get the colors all lined up you've got to turn it around and occasionally move backward and forwards to get the right outcome," he said.

He also sounded an upbeat note on the status of Air Canada's talks on getting pension relief from the federal government before the carrier is scheduled to make large funding payments at the end of July and in early August.

"We've had very good discussions with Ottawa about that. This is a process that has to be done at the same time (as getting labor agreements and new financing)," he told reporters on at Vancouver International Airport on Wednesday.

Rovinescu was at the airport to help unveil a new Boeing 777 aircraft painted to advertise the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, of which Air Canada is a major sponsor.

Wednesday's Olympic event, held inside an airplane hanger with athletes, acrobats and a man walking around in an inflatable aircraft costume, offered a colorful contrast to recent news surrounding the airline's financial struggles.

Rovinescu and organizers of the Winter Olympics said they were confident Air Canada would be able to meet its sponsorship obligations -- such as providing air travel to Games officials -- even as it struggles to reorganize its finances and stay out of bankruptcy protection.

"What you're seeing here is that Air Canada sees the Olympics as a vital part of their own business," said John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.

Neither Air Canada nor VANOC have released financial details of the sponsorship deal. The airplane unveiled on Wednesday will be used primarily on international flights to Europe and Asia, officials said.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 06:39 PM   #894
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Air Canada pilots approve labor, pension deal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , July 13 (Reuters) - Pilots at Air Canada have narrowly voted in favor of a tentative labor and pension agreement, the union said on Monday.

The Air Canada Pilots Association, which represents 3,300 pilots at Canada's biggest airline, said 55 percent of its members had backed the 21-month pact.

Hobbled by a sharp drop in global travel and tough domestic competition, Air Canada needs labor peace as it pursues federal approval for a moratorium of funding its C$2.9 billion ($2.5 billion) pension deficit.

The debt-laden company has also said it needs C$600 million in financing to meet its short-term needs, and help avert a second bankruptcy filing in six years. ($1=$1.16 Canadian)
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Old July 17th, 2009, 04:47 AM   #895
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WestJet strikes transport deal with Air France-KLM

OTTAWA, July 16 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd said on Thursday it has struck a deal with Air France-KLM that lets passengers board the European carriers' planes and travel to a final destination in WestJet's Canadian network with a single ticket.

WestJet, Canada's second-biggest airline, said the interline agreement is an "important strategic move" and could lead to a full code-share deal, in which the airlines sell seats on each other's flights.

"Is this significant from a revenue point of view? No question," said independent airline consultant Rick Erickson. "It's almost gravy on your bottom line."

Erickson said that Air Canada executives have said on conference calls that as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of gross revenue comes from alliance partners.

Initially, connections will be made through WestJet's Calgary and Vancouver gateways, with the option to continue on to Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton.

That provides a "measured and thoughtful approach", said WestJet, which plans to expand the arrangement to its entire Canadian network.

The arrangement will also allow the airlines to try out WestJet's new reservations system software, before a full launch the company has scheduled for the fourth quarter.

Late in 2008, WestJet said it had signed a deal with Sabre Airline Solutions for its SabreSonic reservation system after it was forced to abandon its attempt to have one designed.

"There's some very significant players that fly into Canada that don't have any feed, and I think that WestJet is very likely to sign up a number more of those operators," said Erickson, who heads RP Erickson & Associates.

"WestJet has been utterly besieged by all the big players -- it's a major Canadian airline with increasing fingers throughout North America."

WestJet said in February that it would study a code-share pact with Air France-KLM. In May, such a deal with U.S.-based Southwest Airlines was delayed.

Southwest is committed to the code-share deal, which would have been WestJet's first, but needed to "get its house in order" in the difficult U.S. market, WestJet said.

Full code-share deals provide participating carriers cheaper and easier access to new customers.

Shares of WestJet closed down 1 Canadian cent at C$9.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Erickson, who holds shares in WestJet and Air Canada, said airline stocks are performing poorly in the economic downturn because, as well as being hit by sluggish demand, carriers are affected by such external factors as fuel prices, foreign exchange and fears of the H1N1 flu outbreak.

($1=$1.12 Canadian)
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Old July 20th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #896
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Air Canada says retirees permit pension changes

TORONTO, July 19 (Reuters) - Air Canada said on Sunday a plan to limit payments toward its C$2.9 billion ($2.6 billion) pension deficit have not been opposed by retirees and managers, clearing the way for the airline to request government approval.

Hobbled by a sharp drop in global travel and tough domestic competition, Air Canada has said it needs a pension funding moratorium to help avert a second bankruptcy filing in six years.

The pension funding changes, which have been ratified by all five of the airline's Canadian-based unions, call for a 21-month moratorium on past service contributions and fixed payments from 2011 to 2013.

The airline was also required to consult its retirees, managers and administrative, technical and support employees. The groups were given until Saturday to object to the changes, with the understanding that as long as no more than one-third expressed opposition to the proposal, it would be considered accepted.

Air Canada said as of the deadline, less than one per cent of affected individuals had expressed disagreement.

In addition to the pension funding changes, the airline has said it also need labor peace and C$600 million in financing to meet its short-term needs. Its unions have already agreed to 21-month contracts that freeze their wages.

"The agreements remain subject to the adoption by the Federal Government of an Order-in-Council amending Air Canada's pension funding rules and Air Canada entering into agreements to raise a minimum of C$600 million in new financing," the airline said in a statement.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:47 AM   #897
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soorox View Post
I think Air Canada flew to MEL once, can someone please confrim this?

Lovin the AC tail!

Correct. That was like 5 years ago.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:18 PM   #898
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Interesting ... if it were Heathrow slots then perhaps they may be worth something!

Landing slots national interest: Air Canada unions
21 July 2009
National Post

Air Canada unions are urging Ottawa to ensure the country's largest carrier does not use its landing slots as collateral with a syndicate of private lenders, arguing the loss would essentially leave the country without an international carrier.

Embattled Air Canada has already offered up essentially all of its assets, including its name, as collateral for at least $600-million in loans it is seeking from a syndicate of lenders, which includes GE Capital, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. and Groupe Aeroplan, in order to avoid bankruptcy.

The federal government is also expected to contribute up to $300-million of those funds through Export Development Canada, and the airline's landing slots are currently being offered up as collateral on both portions of the loan, according to those close to the negotiations.

The unions are urging Ottawa to ensure the federal portion is the only part backstopped with the slots, arguing that private lenders would likely auction them off to the highest bidder in the event of the airline's failure, leaving the country without an international presence.

Ottawa, on the other hand, would have a vested interest in keeping those slots for another Canadian carrier if Air Canada were to fold.

Jim Flaherty, the federal Finance Minister, has written the airline saying he is "favourably disposed" to its position, but nothing has been finalized.

Landing slots in such places as Heathrow Airport in the U. K. are scarce and can fetch a hefty price. They are also virtually impossible to replace once sold. Two years ago, Alitalia sold off a pair of its slots to the busy London airport for a reported record of $56-million.

Chris Murray, CIBC World Markets analyst, estimates Air Canada's landings slots are worth more than $400-million based on previous transactions, although their value may have dropped a little in the current recession. He also said the airline's unions have a valid point. "If you lose [the slots], you lose them," he said.

More than 1,200 Air Canada members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents its flight attendants, sent a letter to that effect to Mr. Flaherty over the weekend, saying they support the government using the slots as collateral, but not the private lenders.

"We believe that is not at all in the national interest," said Katherine Thompson, president of the Air Canada component of CUPE.

Others, such as the Air Canada Pilots Association, have made it a condition of supporting the airline's plans for a pension moratorium and labour-contract extension over the next 21 months.

Ottawa is expected to make a ruling on the moratorium in the coming days, given that the airline's next payment is due at the end of July.

Both the moratorium and the contract extensions are key to the airline securing the financing it needs to avoid its second bankruptcy in six years, management has said.

A spokesman for Mr. Flaherty said yesterday he sees no obstacle to the moratorium being granted after retirees and non-unionized workers over the weekend became the last employee groups to agree to the plan.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:53 PM   #899
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By Gordon Tan from HKADB :



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Old July 22nd, 2009, 05:32 AM   #900
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Ottawa says Air Canada pension approval on track

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , July 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian government does not foresee any obstacles to approving a pension moratorium at Air Canada , a Finance Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, although he declined to say when it might do so.

Cash-strapped Air Canada is seeking to waive payments to fund a C$2.9 billion ($2.6 billion) deficit in its pension fund until April 2011.

Mike Storeshaw, a spokesman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, said he could not "give a specific timeline at this point, but we do not expect any obstacles to doing so".

Government approval is expected soon as Air Canada has a C$100 million pension payment due on July 30 and another C$60 million due two weeks later.
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