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Old April 6th, 2011, 12:23 PM   #1061
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WestJet planes fuller in March despite fare hikes
5 April 2011

VANCOUVER, April 5 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd flew fuller planes in March even as it increased ticket prices in the face of a recent surge in oil prices, Canada's second biggest carrier said on Tuesday.

WestJet said its traffic levels, measured in revenue passenger miles, rose 13.3 percent last month. At the same time, the airline increased its capacity, measured in available seat miles, by 12.1 percent.

Taken together, that boosted WestJet's load factor by 1 point to 84.8 percent in March.

"Thus far, we are pleased with the strength of consumer demand and the market's ability to absorb fare increases as we navigate through a period of elevated fuel costs," WestJet President and Chief Executive Gregg Saretsky said.

Oil prices have soared to near 2-1/2 year peaks on worries about supply disruptions because of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Jet fuel is generally an airline's biggest cost and has recently led carriers to raise fares.

Porter Airlines, Canada's third largest scheduled carrier, said its load factor dipped 0.6 points to 49.6 percent in March as passenger numbers did not quite keep pace with capacity increases.

Porter's capacity expanded 22.5 percent last month to 97.6 million available seat miles, while traffic increased 21 percent to 48.4 million revenue passenger miles.

"First-quarter numbers have improved and set a good foundation for further growth as peak seasons approach," Robert Deluce, Porter's president and CEO said.

"Combined with improved yield, we're pleased with the overall 2011 trend, based on current market conditions," he said in a statement.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 05:49 AM   #1062
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Union lashes out at Air Canada CEO's salary

VANCOUVER, April 11 (Reuters) - Salary and benefits of C$4.6 million ($4.8 million) paid to Air Canada's

chief executive last year were a "disgrace" after years of belt-tightening in the industry, one of the unions, currently in labor talks with the airline, said on Monday.

"The Air Canada bargaining committee and our union will be demanding equal improvements and solid gains from Air Canada," Ken Lewenza, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) said.

Air Canada's shares are down by more than a third this year, partly on worries about strikes at Canada's biggest carrier as it negotiates new labor contracts with all its unions.

The CAW represents 3,800 customer service and sales agents at the carrier. The federal government recently appointed a conciliator to help talks along after little progress was made.

Air Canada's management proxy circular, released last Friday, disclosed that CEO Calin Rovinescu received total compensation of nearly C$4.6 million in 2010, up 75 percent on the C$2.6 million he received the year before.

Air Canada said the compensation "reflects the terms of Mr. Rovinescu's original employment contract of April 2009 when he was recruited to return to Air Canada" and that "these arrangements are not new". It declined to comment further.

The contract also includes a retention payment of C$5 million for Rovinescu if he stays until March 31, 2012.

($1=$0.96 Canadian)
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Old April 12th, 2011, 06:17 AM   #1063
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Any rumor about the Vancouver - São Paulo service or Toronto - Rio de Janeiro ? I've read that it was being considering by AC.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #1064
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Originally Posted by malegi View Post
Any rumor about the Vancouver - São Paulo service or Toronto - Rio de Janeiro ? I've read that it was being considering by AC.
I don't see YVR-GRU happening in the near future. YYZ-GIG is a strong possibility but more likely with TAM with AC codesharing.
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Old April 14th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #1065
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Air Canada offering extra hours for pilots in work deal
14 April 2011
The Globe and Mail

Air Canada is offering extra working hours for pilots to fly for its fledgling discount airline division, an incentive that many union members say doesn't go far enough to overcome lower base wages.

About 500 pilots showed up Wednesday at a Toronto hotel to hear union officials explain details of a tentative labour pact, including plans by Air Canada to launch a low-cost leisure carrier.

Besides complaining about the proposal for reduced base wages at the new unit, pilots interviewed during and after the six-hour meeting warned that management's intention to place new hires on less-attractive defined contribution pension plans will create a two-tier system, with existing defined benefit plans being superior.

The Air Canada Pilots Association's master executive council has authorized a 13-day ratification vote to start Friday for the tentative agreement reached last month. More than 3,000 pilots are eligible to vote.

While management is seeking flexibility in work rules, union members who are opposed to the tentative agreement say pilots at the discount division, including new hires, will suffer financially.

A group of pilots declared it had gathered about 1,000 supporters on a website petitioning to recall council chairman Bruce White.

Air Canada has experimented with low-cost fleets in the past, notably Zip Air Inc., which was launched in 2002, primarily as a rival to Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. But Air Canada shut it down in 2004, just two years after startup.

Former Zip president Stephen Smith said in an interview that Air Canada will need concessions from pilots and flight attendants to make the discount concept viable to compete against tour operators such as Transat A.T. Inc. and Sunwing Travel Group.

“For Air Canada to grow into leisure markets, they are going to need a lower cost structure,” Mr. Smith said. “In the tentative contract, pilots will have to look at the total picture. They can't just look at one part.”

Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman said the pension proposals could result in further reductions to the carrier's $2.1-billion pension solvency deficit.

ACPA's pact “is probably better than the fears of investors and some analysts, with positive implications for Air Canada's share price,” he wrote. Separately, Mr. Tyerman said Air Canada will benefit if it's able to nab an extra 16 daily landing slots being relinquished at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, where it will resume flights May 1.

***

PACT HIGHLIGHTS

Low-cost leisure airline

Air Canada will create a lower-wage pilot classification, with “competitive pay rates and working conditions,” but with the prospect of extra hours.

Pensions

New hires will join a defined contribution pension plan.

Early retirement

Raise early retirement qualification by five years to 30 years of service.
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Old April 15th, 2011, 05:01 AM   #1066
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Canada tour operators dip on Air Canada report

VANCOUVER, April 12 (Reuters) - Shares of Canadian tour operators fell on Tuesday following a report that Air Canada Inc plans to launch a discount service to fly to popular holiday destinations.

The Globe and Mail said Air Canada, the country's biggest carrier, is drawing up a business plan to launch a budget arm to compete with Transat AT Inc and other carriers on routes to Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and other vacation spots.

An Air Canada spokeswoman declined to comment on the newspaper report, which gave its source as a letter attached to a recent tentative labor agreement between the airline and its pilots' association.

Shares in Transat, Canada's biggest tour operator, fell as much as 4.7 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange to C$11.33. Shares in WestJet Airlines Ltd , which is Air Canada's biggest competitor and also runs a vacations business, slipped 1 percent to C$14.10.

Air Canada's stock was 3 percent higher at C$2.35 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"If Air Canada were to go ahead with a more discount leisure-focused airline, the investment community might be having some concerns about that and its impact on Transat," National Bank Financial airline analyst Cameron Doerksen said.

"Transat already effectively competes against Air Canada so it's not that huge a change. It is hard to say, knowing virtually none of the details of Air Canada's plan and if it's going to go ahead," he said.

The newspaper report did not give any timetable for the budget carrier.

It said Air Canada's low-cost carrier (LCC) plan is to start with four Boeing 767s and six Airbus A319s, with the potential to increase that fleet to 50 aircraft.

"The LCC is not intended to replace mainline routes the company considers financially viable," the Globe quoted the letter as saying.

Air Canada flies to more than 170 destinations on five continents, according to its website.

($1=$0.96 Canadian)
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Old April 15th, 2011, 06:26 PM   #1067
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Transat A.T. Inc. - Results for first quarter 2011- A challenging start to winter, but no shortage of travellers
Excerpt

MONTREAL, March 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Transat A.T. Inc., one of the largest integrated tourism companies in the world and Canada's holiday travel leader, posted revenues of $810.2 million for the quarter ended January 31, 2011, compared with $792.6 million in 2010, an increase of $17.6 million, or 2.0%. The Corporation recorded an operating loss(1 )of $14.6 million, compared with $12.4 million in 2010, and a net loss of $13.5 million ($0.36 per share on a diluted basis), compared with $13.9 million ($0.37 per share on a diluted basis) in 2010. Before non-cash and non-operating items, Transat reported adjusted after-tax loss(3) of $19.4 million ($0.51 per share on a diluted basis), compared with $18.2 million ($0.48 per share on a diluted basis) in 2010.

"It was a difficult quarter, mainly because of ongoing intense competition in the sun destinations market, which consumers are taking advantage of," said President and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Eustache.

First quarter highlights

The Corporation's first-quarter revenues increased by $17.6 million. This increase is mainly attributable to more travellers to sun destinations. The increase in revenues was offset in part by the strength of the Canadian dollar against the euro and pound sterling, which caused a decrease in the revenues of foreign business units when expressed in Canadian dollars. For the quarter, Transat recorded a 2.9% revenue increase in North America, and a 0.9% decrease in Europe.

The Corporation recorded an operating loss of $14.6 million, compared with $12.4 million in 2010, as increased supply by tour operators on sun destinations translated into downward pressure on selling prices, especially when nearing departure dates. The decrease in margin is also attributable to higher fuel and hotel costs, offset in part by the strength of the Canadian dollar and better aircraft utilization.

Revenues of North American business units, which are generated by sales in Canada and abroad, increased by $18.8 million (2.9%) compared with the same period in 2010. The increase is attributable to a 1.8% increase in the number of travellers. North American business units recorded an operating loss of 0.9%, compared with 0.6% in 2010. The increase is attributable mainly to the combination of higher capacity and lower selling prices for sun packages.

Revenues of European business units, which are generated by sales made in Europe and in Canada, increased in local currencies but decreased by $1.2 million (0.9%) over 2010. The favourable impact from higher average selling prices was offset by the weaker euro and pound sterling, as well as, to a lesser extent, by the unrest in North Africa. In the United Kingdom, Canadian Affair managed to increase both traveller numbers and average selling prices (including in Canadian dollars). European operations generated an operating loss of $8.6 million (6.4%) for the quarter, compared with $8.5 million (6.2%) in 2010.

Financial position

The Corporation's free cash totalled $199.0 million as at January 31, 2011, compared with $147.7 million as at January 31, 2010. Total balance sheet debt decreased by $92.5 million during the 12-month period, to $13.8 million. The net cash(4) position improved by $143.7 million, from a net cash position of $41.5 million as at January 31, 2010 to $185.2 million as at January 31, 2011. Most of the improvement over the past year is due to the operating profit and better working capital management.

Off-balance-sheet agreements stood at $606.0 million as at January 31, 2011, compared with $370.0 million as at January 31, 2010, reflecting new leases for additional Airbus A330s to be introduced in Air Transat's fleet.

Cash flows from operating activities increased by $68.8 million, from cash used by operations of $21.3 million in 2010, to cash flows generated by operations of $47.6 million in 2011. The increase stems mainly from improved working capital management during the winter.

Outlook

The Canadian sun destinations market accounts for a very significant portion of Transat's business in the winter. For the second quarter 2011, the Corporation's capacity is approximately 9% higher than the actual capacity offered last year; bookings and load factors are superior to last year at the same date; and selling prices are similar.

In France, bookings are slightly higher than last year, after having lost momentum following the events in North Africa.

Transat expects the results of the second quarter to be similar to last year, as the favourable impact stemming from a strong Canadian dollar will be offset by higher aircraft fuel costs.

On the summer transatlantic market, capacity and bookings are 10% higher than last year; load factors and selling prices are similar.

There is currently significant uncertainty surrounding oil prices and the upward pressure that this will have on the Corporation's costs for the summer season. Transat has introduced additional fuel surcharges, and continues to use hedging instruments, in order to manage this risk.


To view the full news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: http://www.cnw.ca/en/releases/archiv.../10/c9627.html
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Old April 17th, 2011, 01:15 PM   #1068
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Here's my (late) trip report on Air Canada trip to Hong Kong. It's my first ever flight on Ari Canada as I would normally take OneWorld carriers/Alaska Airlines for the majority of my trips. But I've moved over to Star Alliance now.

Overall, I thought the flight was okay. The Flight Attendants were alright, but were a bit egotistic. I'll admit, I do have quite a high standard in customer service, especially having worked in the aviation industry. This flight was alright, but my trip on the way back was quite a bit better (more on that later).

Here's the first segment:
Quote:
Air Canada Trip Report: YVR-HKG Vancouver-Hong Kong


Flight: Air Canada AC007, YVR-HKG Vancouver-Hong Kong
Date: March 10 2011 1200 (Delayed to 1220)
Duration: 13H 05M
Seat: 42B

...

View trip details on aTravel Journal
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Old April 18th, 2011, 04:02 PM   #1069
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deasine View Post
Here's my (late) trip report on Air Canada trip to Hong Kong. It's my first ever flight on Ari Canada as I would normally take OneWorld carriers/Alaska Airlines for the majority of my trips. But I've moved over to Star Alliance now.

Overall, I thought the flight was okay. The Flight Attendants were alright, but were a bit egotistic. I'll admit, I do have quite a high standard in customer service, especially having worked in the aviation industry. This flight was alright, but my trip on the way back was quite a bit better (more on that later).

Here's the first segment:



View trip details on aTravel Journal
Nice report.
I was on that exact same flight 12 rows behind you and found the crew to be pretty good.
See my report here: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...d.main/187770/
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Old April 18th, 2011, 05:58 PM   #1070
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^ What are the chances?
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Old April 18th, 2011, 09:00 PM   #1071
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Originally Posted by yyzhyd View Post
Nice report.
I was on that exact same flight 12 rows behind you and found the crew to be pretty good.
See my report here: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...d.main/187770/
I did read it actually but didn't notice we were on the same flight! What are the chances!

One thing I didn't like was the fact that they changed their AC07 flight times back to noon time instead of the red-eye. I would think the red-eye works better coming from YYZ wouldn't it?

Note, I didn't find the FAs to be bad... just not great, but again, I'm quite particular with customer service having worked in the aviation industry (and used to flying on Asian airlines). I'll admit, the flight attendant base in Vancouver has improved quite a bit, but still has a lot more for improvement (especially comparing it with my experiences on SQ). At least AC's finally waking up to the fact that they need to hire Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese for their Asian routes (I've actually heard many good stories about the NRT bound routes from YVR and YYZ so I can't wait to try that out). It's YVR's ground crew that needs major overhaul. It's one thing to provide bad service, it's another thing to not provide any service at all. Really, it unnecessarily ruins the image of the airline.

Last edited by deasine; April 18th, 2011 at 09:09 PM.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 03:33 AM   #1072
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Not many airlines can compete with SQ's service!
When you compare AC with similar carriers like LH, BA, AF, KL, UA, AA, DL etc. they are much better.

I laughed when the old guy grabbed his jacket and was wandering around the cabin and the F/A cracked "Are you leaving sir?"
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Old April 19th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #1073
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^ Ironically, SQ does not have Cantonese language service on their HKG-SIN service.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 07:01 AM   #1074
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yyzhyd
Not many airlines can compete with SQ's service!
When you compare AC with similar carriers like LH, BA, AF, KL, UA, AA, DL etc. they are much better.
That I agree with. And its really a sad reality if you think about it. Compared to other North American legacy (keyword: legacy, so not porter), AC really tops the list (that or CO). Now that UA and CO are in the process of service integration, one will wonder whether UAs service standard remain the same, or go to CO levels, or be an inconsistent mix of both.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 04:31 PM   #1075
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deasine View Post
That I agree with. And its really a sad reality if you think about it. Compared to other North American legacy (keyword: legacy, so not porter), AC really tops the list (that or CO). Now that UA and CO are in the process of service integration, one will wonder whether UAs service standard remain the same, or go to CO levels, or be an inconsistent mix of both.
CO is reducing their service levels to match UA (e.g. no more free peanuts).
It will be interesting to see if the new United will keep F or not.
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Old April 20th, 2011, 06:39 PM   #1076
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Wanna use your Aeroplan points? It’s gonna cost you more
Toronto Star
April 20, 2011

Aeroplan: There’s good news and there’s bad news.

First the bad news: After years of not having to re-learn how many points it takes to fly to, say Buenos Aires, Aeroplan is raising the stakes. The average is less than 5 per cent (though Buenos Aires, for instance, is going up from 50,000 to 60,000, which is 20 per cent), but still, a bump’s a bump.

“The motivation is really to keep up with the increase in costs of providing flight rewards over the years,” says David Klein, vice president of marketing. He includes such things as fuel costs, which are up exactly 50 per cent from this time last year. Another reason, Klein says, is Air Canada’s points chart was different — lower — than many of its Star Alliance partners, so they wanted to bring things into line.

Klein points out that while how many points you earn for things has changed over the years, the points cost of flights has stayed almost exactly the same since the very beginning, 26 years ago.

So, what’s the good news? This won’t affect most of us at all. Short-haul domestic flights — places like New York and Montreal — and even some longer-haul domestic flights, such as the lowest-fare flights to Vancouver aren’t changing at all. And neither is the Caribbean, Central America or the lowest-fare flights to Europe and Asia.
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Old April 21st, 2011, 05:34 PM   #1077
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TG & AC from Thailand BKK-PEK-YYZ

My trip report of TG & AC from Thailand: BKK-PEK-YYZ

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...d.main/188921/
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Old April 22nd, 2011, 02:57 AM   #1078
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yyzhyd View Post
My trip report of TG & AC from Thailand: BKK-PEK-YYZ

http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...d.main/188921/
Just to note from reading and scrolling the comments and responses from the forum, you do not need a transit visa at PVG either, so as long as you can prove that you can be transferring on a flight within 24 hours (at PEK) or within 48 hours (at PVG, SHA, or between PVG and SHA).

One thing I'm rather confused is why you had to go through a transfer desk at PEK. As between Star Alliance airlines, the TG staff should have been able to check you through to your PEK-YYZ flight. Often times though, the reservations and ticketing system doesn't display the second segment of the flight, but if you do let the agent know that you will be transferring immediately onto another Star Alliance flight, they should have offered you to check you through.
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Old April 25th, 2011, 04:24 PM   #1079
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Just to note from reading and scrolling the comments and responses from the forum, you do not need a transit visa at PVG either, so as long as you can prove that you can be transferring on a flight within 24 hours (at PEK) or within 48 hours (at PVG, SHA, or between PVG and SHA).

One thing I'm rather confused is why you had to go through a transfer desk at PEK. As between Star Alliance airlines, the TG staff should have been able to check you through to your PEK-YYZ flight. Often times though, the reservations and ticketing system doesn't display the second segment of the flight, but if you do let the agent know that you will be transferring immediately onto another Star Alliance flight, they should have offered you to check you through.
Thanks I wasn't sure about PVG.
Actually none of the transit passengers from our flight we given onward boarding passes. Maybe it's just a TG thing?
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Old May 18th, 2011, 07:08 PM   #1080
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Air Canada's labour deal with pilots comes to a head
16 May 2011
The Globe and Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe...rticle2023625/

Air Canada pilots will finish voting this week on a tentative labour pact that calls for pension reforms and the launch of a discount leisure airline.

A large group of pilots opposes the tentative agreement, even though the union's negotiating committee is recommending they support it.

Union negotiators are backing a contentious proposal to place new hires on defined-contribution pension plans, which don't provide a guaranteed level of payout upon retirement. To qualify for early retirement, those in the existing defined-benefit pension plans would face having to work an extra five years to reach 30 years of service.

“Our pension plans are in trouble,” the negotiators said in a newsletter to more than 3,000 members of the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA). The Montreal-based carrier has a $2.1-billion pension solvency deficit, of which about $550-million is attributable to pilots' plans.

“The creation of a defined-contribution plan will help control volatility over the long term,” according to one in a series of 10 labour newsletters sent to pilots this month.

Voting on ACPA's tentative deal began May 9 and ends this Thursday. Hundreds of pilots signed an online petition last month to express their opposition to the accord, leading to the May 1 ouster of Captain Bruce White as chairman of ACPA's master executive council. Three other union officials also stepped down after recall votes forced them out last week.

But the negotiating committee remains steadfast in its support for the labour pact. “Pay increases, securing our pensions, putting common sense into our scheduling rules and protecting our work were the bedrock of our proposals and remain the foundation of this tentative agreement,” negotiators wrote.

The negotiating committee also staunchly backs management's proposal to launch a low-cost carrier next winter.

“It helps the Air Canada pilots by protecting our jobs, and providing growth and opportunity that will not otherwise exist. It secures this flying ‘in house,' rather than leave open the possibility that Air Canada will attempt to manoeuvre around our collective agreement,” the negotiators said.

The labour uncertainty is expected to linger this spring, with pressure on both sides of the bargaining table as consumers make vacation plans for the summer. While management and union leaders say they are well aware of the high stakes, RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst Walter Spracklin cautions that he will be watching for signs in the weeks ahead of a potential shift in reservations to WestJet Airlines Ltd. and away from Air Canada.

Collective agreements expired on March 31 for ACPA, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (flight attendants) and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (mechanics and baggage handlers).

The Canadian Auto Workers union's collective agreement lapsed on Feb. 28. The CAW, which represents customer service agents and call centre staff, is conducting a strike vote that started last Friday and will end Thursday.

CAW negotiators said in a statement that they have “a detailed strike preparedness plan in the event of a dispute.”
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