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Old December 5th, 2009, 07:43 AM   #941
jayOOfoshO
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Any plans to open routes to San Diego?
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Old December 29th, 2009, 07:45 PM   #942
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In pursuit of reduced turbulence
Glitches in its computer reservations system made for some unfriendly skies in 2009, but a loyalty program, added destinations and a few novel seating ideas may fuel better days ahead, the CEO tells reporter
BRENT JANG
29 December 2009
The Globe and Mail

Devotees of WestJet Airlines Ltd. will be looking to have their faith restored in 2010. The Calgary-based carrier has garnered a loyal following since it launched in 1996, but the shaky introduction of a new computer reservations system in the fall of 2009 wreaked havoc with carefully laid travel plans.

WestJet website crashes and long waits to reach the airline's call centre have irked “guests” – the term for customers in WestJet lingo. The airline industry, meanwhile, had to cope this week with widespread passenger chaos and delayed flights due to heightened security measures in the wake of an attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas Day.

Sean Durfy, who has served as WestJet chief executive officer since September, 2007, is counting on reduced turbulence in 2010, though he cautions it's too early to tell whether the airline industry will bounce back.

WestJet's profit for the first nine months of 2009 tumbled 43 per cent, to $78-million, compared with the same period in 2008. While rival Air Canada spent much of 2009 trying to avoid bankruptcy protection, analysts view WestJet as a good bet to enjoy a respectable 2010, albeit with fuel prices being the wild card. Mr. Durfy spoke about the challenges ahead in a recent interview.

What's the update on the SabreSonic reservations system? The computer system is stable, so it's working. The problem is that it's not working as well as the old system worked at this point in time. Basically, we've had a number of glitches. It's one of those things where we haven't experienced this before. Really, it's about technology allowing us to transact with our guests.

How long will customers be mad about this? Some are frustrated, no doubt about it. But at the same time, they're also saying, “We just want you to get this behind you.” Some guests fly with us only once a year, so by the time they try to book with us in 2010, everything will be fine. You have to put it in relative terms. Through 13 years of WestJet providing what I believe is a great guest experience, and by fundamentally changing the airline industry in Canada and bringing down ticket prices, our guests understand. Why is it important for WestJet to launch its frequent flier program and loyalty credit card in 2010, competing for Air Canada customers who belong to Aeroplan? Our loyalty program will be competitive against Aeroplan. We're really excited about our rewards. It's something our business guests have asked about for a long time. It's a big card, a big play for us over the next several years. Business folks make their decisions based on flight frequencies, price and a loyalty program.

Experts say the North American economy is on the mend. What's your general outlook? I'm still nervous about 2010. It's tough and it's going to be tough. Average households in the U.S. have been spending more than they earn. The reason that we're in this mess is debt loads – don't give credit to a person who can't afford it. From a macroeconomic standpoint, the mess concerns me. We still see the effects of the recession, but I'd like to think we are going to see a recovery in 2010 in Q2 or Q3.

How many planes and destinations will you have at the end of 2010? We'll be taking five aircraft and that gets us to 91. We'll probably add three to five destinations, and that would make it a total of 70 to 72 destinations. And how many international partnerships are in store? We hope to operationalize Southwest Airlines in 2010. We already have Air France-KLM. There could be two to four other partners.

What's behind WestJet's trial project coming up in March on flights between Alberta and Hawaii, where you would charge a fee to sit in rows with empty middle seats? I will have to put an awful lot of fuel on the aircraft for flights between Alberta and Hawaii, in order to fulfill our regulatory obligations for flying over water. You've got to balance off the weight of the fuel with the weight of people on board. So, we have to fly with less than a full load of guests. We have to be creative in our marketing.

Would customers on selected cross-Canada flights be willing to pay a premium – maybe at least $50 one-way – for the aisle or window seat, if the middle one is guaranteed empty? Why wouldn't we test it on this market and see if it flew? Gee whiz, it would be interesting if we could do that. The new reservations system allows us to do it. I think it's neat. We're blue-skying at the moment. Will we actually sell a product like that? Why wouldn't we test something like that? We have looked at a new middle seat, where the back actually folds down and the armrests fold in and it turns into a table. We decided against it.
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Old January 1st, 2010, 06:05 AM   #943
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Toronto man in custody after 'altercation' forces Air Canada plane to land in Montreal
31 December 2009

TORONTO (AP) - Air Canada says a flight bound for Germany made an unscheduled landing in Montreal following an altercation between two passengers.

Air Canada spokesman John Reber says the incident occurred Wednesday night on a flight headed to Frankfurt from Toronto.

Reber says police were waiting when the plane landed at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport at about 7:30 p.m. local time. One passenger was taken into custody and the flight departed at 8:40 p.m. local time.

Police spokesman Const. Olivier Lapointe says a Toronto man is in custody and is expected to be charged with causing a public disturbance.

Reber says the other passenger remained on the flight.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:58 AM   #944
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Hi everyone,

I just read in Wikipedia that AC is planning regular flights to Quito, Ecuador, late this year or in early 2011, what do you think?

Best regards,

Napo
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Old January 18th, 2010, 06:41 PM   #945
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Air Canada adds nuts to no-fly list; Nut-free 'buffer zone' ordered for travellers with severe allergies
8 January 2010
The Toronto Star

There is business class, first class, economy class. Coming soon to an airplane near you: nut-free class.

Air Canada has been told to create a nut-free "buffer zone" on all flights to accommodate passengers who suffer from severe nut allergies. Thursday's decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency followed complaints from two passengers about the inconsistent and difficult experiences they faced when they asked Air Canada to accommodate their severe nut allergies.

"There was clearly no policy. I was getting a different story on every flight," said complainant and frequent traveller Sophia Huyer. "Certain individual flight attendants, if they understand the issue of allergies, would accommodate me, but often it was left up to the captain or staff to make that decision."

Huyer filed the complaint in June 2006 after two flights where she had asked flight staff to not serve nuts. On one, the flight attendant said she could get off the plane and take a later flight. She did. The next time, she stayed on board. When the attendant insisted on serving nuts, Huyer locked herself in the washroom for 40 minutes.

"I felt like I was in a life-threatening situation," said Huyer, whose severe allergy can make it difficult for her to breathe, give her a rash, and cause her tongue to swell if she is even around nuts.

The agency ruled Huyer's allergy can be classified as a disability, and must be accommodated.

Air Canada has 30 days to submit comments on the decision, including how long in advance a person needs to notify the airline for a buffer zone to be created, and how large the zone should be, depending on the aircraft.

Air Canada stopped serving peanuts on flights more than a decade ago, but continues to give out almonds and mixed nuts in business and first class. Porter Airlines serves almonds and says it can accommodate passengers with 48 hours' notice. WestJet doesn't serve nuts, and has used the buffer zone approach for years.

Huyer said she is glad to see a final decision, but doesn't feel the ruling goes far enough. She thinks nuts should be completely banned.

"I know no area can be totally nut-free, but if you're serving nuts, you are actively increasing the risk anyway."

The nut-free zone is among a long list of recent changes introduced on airlines, such as allowances for animals on planes, allowances for those with allergies to animals, and a Supreme Court ruling that those deemed medically obese be allowed to have two seats when flying.

"That's just the way the world seems to be going," said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.
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Old January 22nd, 2010, 08:12 PM   #946
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Air-rage newscaster cites menopausal exhaustion
Judge fines broadcaster $2,400 for 'outrageous' tarmac tantrum

THE CANADIAN PRESS
21 January 2010

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The next time a flight attendant tells her to sit down, Colleen Walsh says she'll listen.

The Toronto broadcaster apologized Wednesday after she was fined $2,400 for slapping another passenger and breaching the Aeronautics Act during an outburst she blamed partly on menopausal exhaustion.

Her tarmac tantrum last March 31 made her a lightning rod for Internet critics, who blasted her chippy refusal in the aftermath to admit she'd lost it.

A more remorseful Walsh told reporters after the verdict, "I accept the responsibility. I think the judge ruled very fairly in terms of my behaviour."

A former Global Television host and CBC Radio newscaster, Walsh said her career and reputation have been "decimated."

"For me, it's been devastating to think that I would be lumped in the same category as anybody who is a criminal. Because I didn't feel that I had committed a crime," she said.

Walsh, 49, acted up after her transatlantic flight was diverted to St. John's for a medical emergency. Police and security officers testified that after the plane landed she was loud, insulting and appeared drunk.

Judge Greg Brown called Walsh's conduct "outrageous" and said "she appears to have been impacted greatly ... by lack of sleep, travel at 30,000 feet, the meal, two small bottles of wine and consuming a sleeping pill."

Walsh testified she'd been up for 30 hours and was on hormone replacement therapy.

She accused Air Canada staff, airport security and police officers of treating her "like a caged animal."

And she vehemently denied saying, once in the back of a cruiser, that she hoped the plane that left St. John's without her would "blow up," contrary to an officer's testimony.

"I would never say something like that. My whole background has been in healing and helping," she testified.

Walsh was placed on probation for a year. She was also ordered to remove offensive blog posts about Stan Harrington, the 67-year-old passenger she struck.

Harrington had testified Walsh stalked down the aisle of the plane towards him and backhanded the side of his head after he told her to "just sit down."

Walsh testified that she merely touched his forehead with the heel of her hand in an effort to calm him. The judge didn't believe her.

The flight was diverted after a young woman drifted in and out of consciousness - a situation Walsh, who is trained in first aid, said Air Canada officials blew out of proportion.

After the judgment, Walsh said she hopes both she and Harrington can move on with their lives.

She said she has lived much of the last nine months in a fog of paralyzing depression and disbelief. She described the verdict as a new beginning.

"I'm going to try and live my life without judgment and by trying to be a better person every day of my life. If this experience has done anything, it has put me in that direction in a much clearer path."
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Old February 4th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #947
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Air Canada loads down in January, WestJet gains

OTTAWA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Air Canada , the county's No. 1 airline, said its planes flew less full last month even as smaller rival WestJet Airlines Ltd said its flights were more crowded.

Air Canada, said its load factor, the percentage of available seats filled with paying customers, slipped 0.6 percentage points to 77.5 percent from January, 2008, when the measure rose to a record for the month.

Traffic on Air Canada and its regional carrier Jazz , increased 4.1 per cent to 3.86 billion revenue passenger miles but that gain was more than offset by a 4.9 percent rise in capacity, or available seat miles, to 4.99 billion.

"This result is close to last year's record load factor for the same month underscoring the on-going effectiveness of our disciplined approach to capacity management in a difficult economic environment," Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada's chief executive, said in a statement. "

WESTJET RISES

WestJet, the country's No. 2 airline, said on Wednesday its planes flew fuller in January, helped by increased vacation travel.

The carrier said its load factor rose to a record high of 78.8 percent from 76.8 percent in January 2009.

Traffic, or revenue passenger miles, increased 9.7 percent year-over-year, while capacity, or available seat miles, rose by 6.9 percent.

"As we continue to endure the challenges of an uncertain economy, we are happy to be starting 2010 on the right foot," said WestJet Chief Executive Sean Durfy.

"These great traffic results help illustrate the success of our seasonal deployment strategy and the continuing strength of WestJet Vacations and the WestJet brand."

The company said it launched new services in January to several "sun destinations" in the United States and Mexico.

The Calgary, Alberta-based airline has said that transition problems with its Sabre reservation system would hurt fourth-quarter results, which are expected Feb. 17. It has forecast a decline in revenue per seat mile of 11 percent to 13 percent from the year-before quarter.

WestJet shares rose 5 Canadian cents to C$13.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday while Air Canada class B shares fell 3 Canadian cents to C$1.31.

($1=$1.06 Canadian)
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Old February 5th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #948
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By Star Alliance from HKADB :

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Old February 12th, 2010, 03:07 PM   #949
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Air Canada launches court bid for slots
11 February 2010
The Globe and Mail

Air Canada is aiming to lure corporate customers by adding 74 new daily flights in a crucial battleground while trying to thwart fast-growing Porter Airlines Inc.'s expansion plans.

Montreal-based Air Canada launched legal proceedings yesterday, accusing Porter of having an “improper anti-competitive advantage” at Toronto's downtown island airport. The defendants are Porter and the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), a federal agency that oversees the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

The TPA is poised to “grandfather” Porter's monopoly on 120 daily “slots” – takeoff and landing positions – at the island airport, Air Canada said in legal documents to back its notice of application in the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the TPA's slot distribution process announced late last year.

While the TPA has agreed to finally allow competition, the agency will give 50 per cent of any additional slots to Porter, meaning the Toronto-based airline could nab 46 of an estimated 92 slots expected to be divvied up in future.

The result would be that Air Canada and other carriers would wind up with a total of 46 slots at most. Air Canada counters that it needs 74 daily slots to be viable at Bishop airport, aiming to serve Montreal, Ottawa and Newark, N.J.

“For the past nearly four years, Porter has had exclusive access to slots at the island airport,” said Air Canada, which wants to use its Jazz affiliate to compete against Porter. Jazz filed its own Federal Court lawsuit in 2007 against the TPA and Porter, which have denied any wrongdoing.

Air Canada, in making submissions to have its new case heard, said it is seeking “an injunction to prevent the TPA from proceeding” with its strategy to allocate slots in a manner that still heavily favours Porter and allegedly abuses guidelines under the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“We're anxious to get into the airport. Our customers want us to do that,” Air Canada chief executive officer Calin Rovinescu said during a conference call yesterday.

TPA chairman Mark McQueen said in an interview that slots will be distributed fairly.

“The process is wonderfully understood and there's nothing about the process that we're going to deviate from,” Mr. McQueen said. “We have not yet appointed an individual who is an IATA-approved person, but that person will follow the protocols.”

Mr. McQueen said Air Canada's latest legal move “is an unnecessary step. We're dancing as fast as we can.”

Air Canada is also concerned that TPA insists that Jazz make leasing arrangements with City Centre Terminal Corp., a company headed by Porter CEO Robert Deluce.

Air Canada announced yesterday that its 2009 loss narrowed to $24-million, helped by foreign-exchange gains. It lost $1.02-billion in 2008.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 07:59 PM   #950
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WestJet 4Q Net Drops 52%; Results Better Than Expected
17 February 2010

TORONTO (Dow Jones)--WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA.T) reported a 52% drop in fourth-quarter profit after booking disruptions, increased airport security and a weak economy forced it to keep its prices low.

Net income fell to C$20.2 million or 14 Canadian cents a share from C$42 million or 33 Canadian cents a year earlier. Excluding a tax credit, profit dropped to C$15.1 million or 11 cents, which exceeded the Thomson Reuters mean estimate of 5 Canadian cents.

In Toronto Wednesday, the stock is up 18 Canadian cents to C$14.04 on 592,000 shares.

Calgary-based WestJet, posting its 19th straight quarter of profitability, managed to navigate through a difficult 2009 when the airline industry experienced its worst decline in passenger demand in history and Air Canada (AC.B.T), the country's largest airline, nearly filed for bankruptcy protection.

"They were good results," says National Bank Financial's David Newman. "It looks like the airline industry is coming back strongly here."

Revenue fell 7% to C$570 million, but was ahead of the mean estimate of C$562 million. Operating margin was 6.3% versus 9.6% a year earlier on lower fuel costs.

Fourth-quarter capacity rose 2.9% from a year earlier and realized a yield decline of 11.0% from fare discounting, while its load factor increased to 78.4% from 77.6%, leading to a 10% decline in revenue per available seat mile, or RASM.

The drop in RASM was better than expected. Citing challenges experienced in transitioning to a new reservation system, WestJet said in early December that fourth-quarter RASM was expected to be down 11%-13% from a year earlier. Cost per available seat mile fell 6.8%.

The airline upgraded its bookings system to Sabre in mid-October, a transition that was marred by computer glitches. The new system failed to recognize more than 500,000 bookings made before the changeover date, frustrating travellers who couldn't get through to WestJet's call center. Chief Executive Sean Durfy said on a conference call that, while revenue was hurt, it was difficult to quantify, and that call-center wait times are now "very close to pre-cutover levels."

Sabre is "a key catalyst" to attract co-share partners, and "that could be fairly material," Newman said.

Durfy said the airline will add three to four more inbound interline partnerships this year and will likely begin marketing code-share partnerships in 2011.

But, its highly touted code-share with Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) "will be pushed out further than 2010," primarily because of technological issues, Durfy said. He remains optimistic the partnership will come to fruition.

The airline is expected to launch its much-delayed frequent-flier program, as well as a co-branded credit card with Royal Bank of Canada (RY) and MasterCard in March, both of which are important in attracting business travellers, Newman said.

WestJet said first-quarter RASM is expected to decline less than 5% from a year ago because of continued pressure on fares.

It will also take delivery of additional aircraft, bringing its fleet to 88.
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Old February 21st, 2010, 08:49 AM   #951
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WestJet closing gap with Air Canada
18 February 2010
The Globe and Mail

Sean Durfy believes WestJet Airlines Ltd. is on pace to challenge Air Canada for the lead in domestic market share four years from now, likening the Calgary-based carrier to a long-distance speed skater who gradually closes in on the favoured rival.

“We're narrowing the gap. It's more of a 5,000-metre event rather than a 500-metre event,” said Mr. Durfy, WestJet's chief executive officer.

By the time the next Winter Olympic Games roll around in 2014, WestJet could be nipping at the heels of Air Canada, he predicted.

At the end of December, WestJet had a domestic market share of 38 per cent, compared with 36 per cent at the end of 2008, Mr. Durfy said in an interview yesterday, basing his figures on revenue passenger miles, a key measure of airline traffic.

While he declined to estimate his rival's share, industry experts say Air Canada's piece of the domestic market stood at 55 per cent at the end of 2009, down from 57 per cent a year earlier.

“We're targeting gaining a point or two every year, so to get to 39 or 40 per cent in late 2010 would be fantastic for us,” Mr. Durfy said.

If all goes well for WestJet, the carrier will have roughly 45 per cent of the Canadian scheduled airline market in 2014. Toronto-based Porter Airlines Inc. plans to continue its expansion, solidifying its spot in third place, albeit a long way back from Canada's two largest carriers.

A decade ago, after acquiring Canadian Airlines International Ltd., Montreal-based Air Canada commanded 77 per cent of the domestic market while WestJet held just 7 per cent.

Founded in 1996, WestJet didn't fly east of Manitoba until 2000.

WestJet has grown steadily from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland in recent years, as Air Canada shifted its attention to U.S. and overseas flights because, historically, long-haul routes carry the highest profit margins.

WestJet announced yesterday that its 2009 profit fell 45 per cent to $98.2-million. Its fourth-quarter profit declined 52 per cent to $20.2-million, but given last year's recession and glitches with a new computer reservations system, the carrier's executives said they were proud to have posted the 19th consecutive quarter of profit.

Versant Partners Inc. analyst Cameron Doerksen said it's realistic for WestJet to set its sights on Air Canada's No. 1 position domestically.

WestJet will benefit from international partnerships, attracting connecting passengers, though some pacts will take longer than expected to come to fruition. An alliance with Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co., originally slated to take effect in 2009 or 2010, has been rescheduled for launch in 2011.

Mr. Doerksen said WestJet will be limited in Canada at some point with its fleet of Boeing 737 jets, unless it orders aircraft better suited to serving smaller Canadian cities such as Regina. Air Canada has an advantage because it offers flights through its Jazz affiliate, which operates regional jets and turboprops.

“If WestJet does want to tap into the traffic coming from some of these smaller cities, they will have to get smaller aircraft into their fleet or get a partnership going,” Mr. Doerksen said.

WESTJET (WJA)

Close: $14.03, up 17¢

***

WestJet ascends in Canada's skies

Founded in 1996, WestJet began flying east of Manitoba in 2000, gradually loosening Air Canada's grip on domestic flights.

DOMESTIC AIRLINE MARKET SHARE

2000:

Air Canada 77%
Westjet 7%
Other 16%

2006:

Air Canada 60%
Westjet 33%
Other 7%

2009:*

Air Canada 55%
Westjet 38%
Other 7%

* As of Dec. 31, 2009

WESTJET AVAILABLE SEAT MILES, IN BILLIONS

'04 - 9.0
'05 - 10.7
'06 - 12.5
'07 - 14.5
'08 - 17.1
'09 ' 17.6

THE GLOBE AND MAIL / SOURCES: INDUSTRY ESTIMATES; OFFICIAL AIRLINE GUIDE; WESTJET
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Old March 9th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #952
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WestJet rewards program takes aim at Aeroplan
9 March 2010
The Globe and Mail

Air travellers seeking to book last-minute flights or fly during peak periods are counting on WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s new frequent flier program to be an improvement over Air Canada's Aeroplan loyalty plan.

WestJet is hoping to tap into consumer discontent that accompanies searches for Aeroplan rewards, at least during popular travel times, said Patrick Sojka, chief executive officer at rewardscanada.ca, which tracks a wide range of loyalty programs.

Aeroplan passengers get sticker shock whenever they try to book with little notice or attempt to fly during any hectic holiday period, resulting in redemption requirements that can be two to four times higher than the number of points needed to obtain off-peak flights, Mr. Sojka said yesterday, after WestJet kicked off its “frequent guest program.”

Bob Cummings, WestJet's executive vice-president of marketing and sales, said there won't be holiday blackout periods on the Calgary-based carrier's reward flights.

Instead of copying Aeroplan's system of encouraging consumers to accumulate “miles,” WestJet is offering “dollars off flights and holiday packages,” Mr. Cummings said.

WestJet and Royal Bank of Canada introduced new credit cards last Thursday, with consumers who applied on launch day scheduled to receive their loyalty cards as early as March 18. Two cards are available to accumulate “WestJet dollars,” called the WestJet RBC World MasterCard and WestJet RBC MasterCard.

WestJet is also attempting to lure Air Canada customers away from 25-year-old Aeroplan by persuading consumers to participate in a new program that offers tiered rewards after an individual traveller spends more than $1,500 on WestJet flights annually.

More than one-fifth of Aeroplan reward seats are booked within 14 days of travel, said Aeroplan spokeswoman JoAnne Hayes, who noted that passengers face higher WestJet base fares during peak times. WJA (TSX) fell 3 cents to $14.02.
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Old March 17th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #953
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WestJet faces shakeup as CEO steps down
Surprise resignation comes on heels of sharp profit drop and reservation glitch

16 March 2010
The Globe and Mail

An airline industry veteran has been tapped to run WestJet Airlines Ltd. after its chief executive officer resigned, a surprise move that follows weak quarterly earnings and the bungled launch of a new reservation system.

Sean Durfy stepped down as president and CEO of the Calgary-based airline last night, saying he wanted to spend more time with his young family. He'll be replaced by industry veteran Gregg Saretsky, who was an executive at the now-defunct Canadian Airlines for 13 years and has worked in the industry for 25 years.

“There's no secret that there have been challenges at the company over the last 12 months, and I'm certain that there have been issues when it comes to performance,” said Ben Cherniavsky, an industry analyst who follows the airline for investment dealer Raymond James Ltd.

It's the second time in 10 years WestJet has replaced a top executive unexpectedly. It's an awkward situation for a company that prides itself on corporate culture, Mr. Cherniavsky said.

“This is a delicate situation for the board and for WestJet,” he said. “Culture and leadership is important at any company, but it is absolutely pinnacle to the success at WestJet. It's telling that this is the second time in a relatively short history the plug has been pulled on a CEO, even if he resigned on his own.”

The airline praised Mr. Durfy for spearheading several projects, including the launch of its vacation package business and the implementation of two new reservation systems. However, the most recent reservation system was an embarrassment for the airline when it launched in October, causing website crashes and long waits for customer service.

The company said the reservations glitch eroded its fourth-quarter results, with profit coming in 52 per cent below the same quarter a year ago. While pressured by reduced business spending, high unemployment and low consumer confidence, Mr. Durfy told analysts that he was “ecstatic and extremely pleased” with the quarter's $20.2-million profit.

The company's shares have lagged its main competitor Air Canada, with a gain of 11.95 per cent since the beginning of the year. Air Canada has gained 28.03 per cent, while the S&P 500 Airline Index, which tracks the broader industry, has gained 13.73 per cent.

Mr. Durfy said he would stay with the company until April. Both men will attend a press conference today, and plan to attend a National Bank Financial transportation conference in Toronto March 24.

“Those things I set out to accomplish at WestJet have now been achieved and I believe this is an appropriate time to allow others to carry the torch,” Mr. Durfy said in the release.

At the end of December, WestJet had a domestic market share of 38 per cent, compared with 36 per cent at the end of 2008, Mr. Durfy said in February, basing his figures on revenue passenger miles, a key measure of airline traffic. While he declined to estimate his rival's share, industry experts say Air Canada's piece of the domestic market stood at 55 per cent at the end of 2009, down from 57 per cent a year earlier.

Before joining WestJet, Mr. Durfy was president and chief operating officer at Calgary-based utility Enmax Energy Corp. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Founded in 1996, the low-cost WestJet didn't fly east of Manitoba until 2000. It now serves 69 cities in North America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Saretsky is well positioned to enhance his predecessor's accomplishments, WestJet chairman Clive Beddoe said. At Alaska Airlines, Mr. Saretsky developed a network of partners among the U.S. airlines and an award-winning rewards program. He was also “instrumental in the establishment of many cost-saving initiatives, making Alaska one of the most efficient airlines in North America,” WestJet said.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the president and CEO role and we are confident his background will provide the leadership and experience required to achieve our strategic plans,” Mr. Beddoe stated.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #954
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WestJet plans big push on airline partnerships
24 March 2010

VANCOUVER, March 24 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd wants to establish one new partnership with another carrier every quarter starting later this year as it eyes expansion into international markets, the newly chosen chief executive of Canada's No. 2 airline said on Wednesday.

Gregg Saretsky, who takes over as WestJet's CEO on April 1, said a number of carriers have already beaten a path to the door of the airline, which at the moment flies only to destinations in North America and the Caribbean.

"The plan is to have a code-share partner in each geographic region in the world," Saretsky told a transportation conference in Toronto.

"(The plan is for) one for Asia-Pacific, one for the Indian subcontinent, perhaps one in the South Pacific. Europe and Asia we already have a good start with," he said in his first public appearance in front of investors and analysts since his surprise appointment last week.

Saretsky, a 25-year veteran of the airline industry, joined Calgary-based WestJet just nine months ago. Last week he was named new CEO to replace Sean Durfy who is stepping down for family reasons after less than three years at the helm.

WestJet already has a partnership with China Airlines Ltd and Air France-KLM , which it is developing into a full code-share arrangement.

Code-share deals allow carriers to sell tickets to passengers from another airline, helping carriers to increase revenue while limiting costs as they don't have to service all destinations.

"We are going to exploit international markets first going through code-share arrangements," Saretsky said when asked about WestJet's plans to fly international routes.

Partnerships were a key part of Durfy's expansion strategy for WestJet too, although the targets laid out by Saretsky appear more aggressive.

Saretsky was quick to reassure investors that little will change under his lead at WestJet, which is one of the few airlines in North America to stay profitable through the recent recession-led slump in airline travel.

"My plan for WestJet is pretty much business as usual," he said.

He said applications for WestJet's recently launched frequent flier program "blew the doors off", although he declined to provide figures.

WestJet, which has about a 38 percent share of the Canadian market, should "fairly easily" be able to increase this into the mid-40s over the next two to four years, Saretsky said. To do this, it will need to eat deeper into the turf of Air Canada , its only real rival.

WestJet's stock was up 9 Canadian cents at C$13.84 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday afternoon.

($1 = $1.02 Canadian)
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Old April 19th, 2010, 08:46 AM   #955
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Jetstar ties up with Air Canada
12 April 2010
The Australian

AIRLINES: Jetstar customers will be able to buy a through fare to Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Quebec after the low-cost Qantas offshoot signed its 12th interline deal.

The deal with Air Canada means Jetstar customers will be able to connect to the Canadian carrier's services through Hawaii using a joint fare on a single booking.

Air Canada, which operates direct flights between Sydney and Vancouver, is also offering a combo deal that allows passengers to combine a stop-over in Honolulu with Jetstar in one direction and fly non-stop in the other.

The Canadian carrier joins existing Jetstar interline partners such as Qantas, Etihad, Air Calin and Royal Jordanian.

Jetstar expects the deal to be financially beneficial and to boost in-bound tourism from Canada.

Jetstar said it would provide seamless booking and ticketing, providing customers and the travel industry with more options to include a Jetstar flight into itineraries.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 07:42 AM   #956
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Air Canada unions say increasing pool of stocks for execs sends wrong message
28 May 2010
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Air Canada's shareholders rejected Thursday the warnings of its unions that increasing the pool of available stocks to reward executives could damage efforts to rebuild the airline.

More than 80 per cent of investors supported a plan to increase the shares in its long-term incentive plan to nearly 19.5 million or seven per cent of all outstanding shares.

Five million shares were made available at Air Canada's (TSX:AC.B) initial public offering in 2006, representing five per cent of outstanding shares. Only 1.8 million of the 278 million outstanding shares remain available for distribution.

The Montreal-based airline said it needed the extra shares ``to attract, retain and motivate employees in key positions.''

But the head of the pilots' union said the move violates an agreement with employees not to increase executive compensation during a 21-month freeze on pay for employees that expires next March.

The freeze and contract extension gave unionized workers 17.6 million shares and one seat on the board of directors.

``This sends the wrong message to employees,'' Bruce White told shareholders, noting the improvements made by the airline over the last 10 months.

``In fact, instead of engaging them, we feel it may in fact alienate them. This could in fact even damage some of our efforts to rebuild this airline into a sustainable company.''

White said he's not opposed to rewarding senior management, but that any incentive targets should also be open to other employees.

Supporting the pilots' position was the union representing flight attendants.

Air Canada chairman David Richardson said the company is not currently awarding these extra shares and will stand by agreements with its unions.

But he said that outside advisers have told the airline it needs to have between five and 10 per cent of its shares available to give it the flexibility to thrive by attracting and retaining the industry's best leaders.

``There's no attempt to change the compensation plans and we stand by the agreement that we made with the unions that there would be no change in the compensation plans of the senior executives.''

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu added that increasing the share float doesn't violate the union agreements, noting the company could have used its existing available shares.

``The arrangements last year didn't preclude even the issuance of options to our senior management team,'' he told reporters. ``All it said was we were not going to improve the terms of the grants. None of that is going on.''

Air Canada's six senior executives shared $8.4 million of remuneration in 2009, including option-based awards, incentives and pension values. Rovinescu's total was $2.58 million, including $1.05 million salary and an $800,825 bonus.

The airline avoided another round of creditor protection last year by receiving a financial injection of more than $1 billion.

Rovinescu told shareholders at the company's annual meeting that the airline was on the runway to generate long-term profits, reversing last year's $316 million of operating losses.

``This franchise is very strong and we intend to make it stronger,'' he said.

It cut $50 million in costs last year and plans to save another $270 million in 2010 and $500 million by 2011.

Canada's largest airline is beginning to see a recovery in revenue from higher ticketed premium seats and is looking attract more business travellers from the eastern U.S.

Rovinescu said Air Canada has no ``immediate'' plans to follow the lead of the largest U.S. carrier to add a ``peak travel surcharge'' of up to $30 per seats for flights on most days this summer.

``We're not looking at that sort of thing right now,'' he told reporters, adding that airlines are looking at different ways to increase their revenues

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada's class B shares closed down three cents to $1.85 in Thursday trading.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 04:07 AM   #957
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Why is flight from Toronto to Buenos Aires via Santiago? Obviously, most of the passengers to Toronto are from Buenos Aires, so...? It should be direct. All the people I know who been to Canada went through Miami. You can also go through Dallas, Houston, Washington, New York or Atlanta. They would have a lot more pax with a direct. At the moment It's just a 5 weekly on B767
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 06:16 AM   #958
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnzlnho View Post
Why is flight from Toronto to Buenos Aires via Santiago? Obviously, most of the passengers to Toronto are from Buenos Aires, so...? It should be direct. All the people I know who been to Canada went through Miami. You can also go through Dallas, Houston, Washington, New York or Atlanta. They would have a lot more pax with a direct. At the moment It's just a 5 weekly on B767
The winter season (summer in Buenos Aires) will be daily on a 777. I'm not 100% sure about the reason why AC needed to stop in Santiago but my guess is that because it's a 5th Freedom right that they're exercising, they can in fact fly domestic passengers on the internal South American route so from a revenue/load factor standpoint, they're not really losing out by not flying direct.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 04:49 PM   #959
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Air Canada secures $170.5 mln loan to buy planes

OTTAWA, June 10 (Reuters) - Air Canada, said on Thursday it has a commitment for a senior secured term loan facility of up to $170.5 million from GE Japan Corp to help finance the purchase of 16 planes it currently leases.

Canada's biggest airline can put up to $128.5 million toward the purchase of eight Airbus A319 airplanes and four Boeing B767-300ER aircraft in 2011, with terms of seven and four years respectively.

The airline can use up to $42 million toward the purchase of four Airbus A319 aircraft in 2012, with a term of five years.

The company's more heavily traded class B shares were up 5 Canadian cents, or 2.75 percent, at C$1.87 on the Toronto Stock Exchange early Thursday afternoon.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)
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Old June 14th, 2010, 06:24 PM   #960
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WestJet in talks with China Eastern
Carrier looks to compete with Air Canada by striking 'interline' deals with international airlines

14 June 2010
The Globe and Mail

China Eastern Airlines Co. Ltd. and WestJet Airlines Ltd. are holding talks to form a partnership, hoping to tap into the promising market of Chinese leisure travellers visiting Canada.

Under the proposed “interline” deal, the two carriers will co-operate on ticketing and baggage handling, making it easier for China Eastern passengers on inbound trips into Vancouver to catch one of WestJet's connecting, domestic flights.

“We would like to achieve interline co-operation because it will benefit both of us,” China Eastern sales manager Ben Lee said in an interview. “Canada is a relatively new place to explore for the Chinese leisure market and packaged tour groups. This goes beyond the professionals and business people from China.”

Mr. Lee said the first step focuses on transferring China Eastern customers onto WestJet's network, but he envisages closer ties down the road, with the Shanghai-based company positioned for “code-sharing” – notably electronic ticketing, where one airline will be able to sell fares on flights operated by the other carrier.

WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer said he couldn't comment on “potential relationships until we have a signed agreement.”

A co-operation pact with China Eastern will be one of five international deals that WestJet hopes to forge with foreign carriers over the next 18 months, as the Calgary-based airline signs up allies to help combat Air Canada and its global partners.

The influx of Chinese trips is forecast to be strong in 2010 because China granted approved destination status (ADS) to Canada in late 2009. The move allows travel agents in China to market Canada, clearing the way for more residents from China to visit.

“The next few years should prove to be exciting ones for Canada, with ADS expected to provide a healthy boost to Chinese visitors to the country,” according to a report by the Canadian Tourism Commission. Media coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February also helped spread the word about Canada.

Last year, despite the recession, more than 161,000 visitors from China visited Canada, an increase of 1 per cent from 2008. China has been the lone bright spot among key overseas markets. By contrast, the number of visitors to Canada from Japan fell 28 per cent in 2009. Canada also suffered sharp drops last year in overseas visits from South Korea, Britain, Australia and Brazil.

China Eastern is beefing up its Vancouver-Shanghai service, hoping to attract both Chinese traffic into Canada and Canadians flying to China.

Since launching the route in 2004, China's third-largest carrier has scaled back flights in the fall and winter, but starting Nov. 1, it will be offering daily non-stop service year-round between Shanghai and Vancouver, deploying the 286-seat Airbus A340.

WestJet's other prospective Asian partners include Korean Air and Japan Airlines Corp. WestJet already has inbound interline agreements in place with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Taiwan's China Airlines.

“With Chinese incomes on the rise and paid annual leave becoming commonplace, the personal barriers to long-haul travel are rapidly disappearing,” said the Canadian Tourism Commission.

“At the same time, major events like the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo are enhancing residents' connections to other countries and cultures, encouraging them to identify as global citizens and stoking their desire to see foreign lands.”
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