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Old August 5th, 2011, 05:51 PM   #1101
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WestJet’s profits soar as higher fares offset fuel prices
Thu Aug 04 2011
The Canadian Press

CALGARY—WestJet (TSX: WJA) has seen its second-quarter profits soar almost 275 per cent as higher fares and cost controls helped offset increased fuel prices, the Western Canada-based airline said Thursday.

“We saw improvements in our key operational metrics this quarter and also kept our controllable costs in check, which contributed to our strong results,” president and CEO Gregg Saretsky said in a release.

WestJet said profits were $25.6 million, or 18 cents per share in the quarter, up 274.7 per cent from net earnings of $6.8 million or five cents in the same 2010 quarter.

Revenues were up 21.4 per cent at $742.3 million from $611 million in the 2010 period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were on average expecting WestJet (TSX: WJA) to report earnings of nine cents per share and revenue of $734 million.

Revenue per available seat mile, or RASM, was 14.17 cents, up from 12.24 cents.

“WestJet anticipates continued year-over-year RASM growth for the third quarter of 2011 based on advanced bookings,” the airline said.

“However, this year-over-year growth is expected to come at a moderated pace versus that seen during the first half of 2011 since the pricing environment was more robust during the second half of 2010 as compared to the first half of 2010.”

In an effort to compete more effectively with Air Canada, the country’s biggest airline, WestJet (TSX: WJA) has been looking to draw more international traffic into its network.

WestJet’s fleet consists only of Boeing 737 aircraft, which are not capable of making long-haul journeys to Asia or Europe. So the company has been seeking partnerships with other carriers to expand its global reach.

In the United States, WestJet is working with American Airlines and Delta. On the international front, WestJet has announced partnerships with British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Air France and KLM.

WestJet is also looking to beef up its presence in the ultra-competitive Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal circuit by offering various perks to business travellers.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 08:14 PM   #1102
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Air Transat flight attendants approve new contract
CBC News
Posted: Aug 4, 2011 5:02 AM ET

Nearly two-thirds of Air Transat flight attendants have voted to approve a new collective agreement, some six weeks after voting in favour of a strike mandate.

The new pact was reached July 8.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents about 1,500 Air Transat flight attendants in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Union members turned down a contract offer June 16, and voted 93 per cent in favour of strike action. No strike date was set.

CUPE says 65 per cent of flight attendants gave the thumbs-up to the recently reached five-year deal.

Retroactive to November 2010, when the last contract expired, the new deal includes wage increases and pension upgrades.

The union also says the maximum shift length will remain at 14 hours, not 15 hours, which was initially requested by the airline.

Earlier this week, Air Canada announced it had reached a tentative deal with the union representing about 6,800 flight attendants.

No details will be released until the contract is approved by CUPE members and the airline's board.

With files from The Canadian Press
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Old August 7th, 2011, 08:15 AM   #1103
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Passengers pay for airline performance
Fri Aug 05 2011
Toronto Star

Canada’s biggest airlines have boosted their financial performance by charging their customers more in the face of rising costs.

Air Canada said Thursday it reduced its net loss to $46 million in the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $318 million a year ago.

“The improvement was driven by higher fares and fuel surcharges,” the company said, as it sought to offset higher fuel prices.

Operating revenue increased to $2.918 billion, up from $2.625 billion a year earlier.

Air Canada also sharply reduced foreign exchange losses as the Canadian dollar rose. The latest quarter included foreign exchange losses of $9 million, compared with a loss of $190 million a year ago.

Meanwhile, rival Westjet also said a “strong pricing environment” allowed it to boost profit in the second quarter.

Westjet’s net profit rose to $25.6 million on revenue of $742.3 million, up from a profit of $6.8 million on revenue of $611.7 million a year earlier.

Both airlines said that higher fuel prices were a challenge during the quarter.

But while both saw increases in the key measure of cost per available seat mile, they were able to more than offset it by boosting revenue even more.

Westjet’s chief executive Greg Saretsky said revenue growth should continue in the third quarter, based on advance bookings, but said it will moderate.

Air Canada is also expecting better revenue, based on improved economic conditions in the U.S., and on increasing capacity.

But airline officials said the capacity increases will come from increased use of available aircraft – not from new aircraft acquisitions – so the airline will be in a position to reduce capacity quickly if the market softens.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu dismissed any notion that he’s thinking of leaving the airline, when asked about succession planning by analysts after results were released.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

Rovinescu said that Air Canada will challenge the decision of the competition bureau to block Air Canada’s proposed joint venture with United Continental Holdings

“We’ll have a chance to explain why it is we think this is pro-consumer,” he said, noting that the U.S.-Canada border routes are “very competitive.”

“The indication on a global basis is that these sorts of joint ventures that form revenue sharing partnerships are a way of the future.”

The airline says it is still studying the launch of a low cost carrier, and must make sure it can get agreements from unions and employees to make sure it really is low-cost.

Rovinescu said the airline continues to campaign for lower taxes and airport fees, which it complains are far too high in Canada

“We’re not letting go of the issue,” he said. “We need to have a competitive environment, at least on a North American basis.”

Meanwhile, Porter Airlines said it had a strong month of July. It doesn’t report its finances publicly.

The airline, which flies out of Billy Bishop Airport on Toronto Island, says it set a record for the number of passenger miles flown, and had the best July in its history for load factor – a measure of what percentage of the available seats are filled.

Air Canada has also been flying out of Billy Bishop, and Rovinescu said he’s “not unhappy” with business so far on the company’s route to Montreal.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #1104
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U.S. authorities fine Air Canada over deceptive website advertising



The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday it has fined Air Canada for breaking the laws against deceptive price advertising.

"When passengers buy an airline ticket, they have a right to know how much they will have to pay," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "We take our airline price advertising rules seriously and will take enforcement action when they are violated."

For an unspecified period early this year, advertisements on Air Canada's websites "did not disclose the amount of taxes and fees that passengers would have to pay in addition to the advertised fare, or lead the consumer directly to the information on these taxes and fees," the department's Aviation Enforcement Office found.

It said when customers clicked on the ads they were taken to a web page displaying routes and prices, but details of additional taxes and fees could only be found in the fine print at the bottom of the page.

"As soon as the U.S. Department of Transportation advised us of their concern regarding the way information was displayed on one of our ads on several U.S. websites, we looked into this immediately and within 24 hours had the banner ads modified to improve clarity," Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said in an e-mailed statement, calling it an "isolated occurrence."

Department of Transportation rules, which apply to both domestic and foreign carriers, require any advertising that includes an airfare to state the full price the customer will pay, including all surcharges. Government-imposed taxes and fees, such as the passenger facility fees, currently exempt from the pricing rules, will have to be included in the advertised ticket price beginning Jan. 24, 2012.

Canada passed a law four years ago requiring airlines to advertise the full price of airfares, but the federal government signalled last month that the legislation may be too complicated to enact.

The legislation to update key sections of the Canada Transportation Act to require airlines include all extra fees, surcharges and taxes in its advertising, received all-party support in June 2007. A last-minute amendment in the Senate stipulated that the federal cabinet set the date for the new rules to come into effect, and the Conservative government has yet to do so.

In a statement to Postmedia News in June, Transport Canada said the government is "aware that this provision of the legislation remains outstanding," and hinted the file may be too tricky to resolve. "The government wants to do what's best for consumers, while also ensuring there's no confusing information in the marketplace. Differences in provincial regimes permit tour operators and travel agents to advertise differently from airlines, which could be confusing for consumers."

Canada's airlines maintain it would be unfair to require them to advertise the final cost of a ticket because some foreign carriers could continue to advertise base fares on their websites, from which Canadian travellers can make purchases.
http://www.canada.com/entertainment/...815/story.html
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Old August 7th, 2011, 08:53 PM   #1105
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The Europeans seem to be a lot more advanced in implementing all-inclusive fares.
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Old August 10th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #1106
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Air Canada may be legally OK not to ship monkeys
CBC News
Posted: Aug 9, 2011 3:49 PM ET

Animal protection groups renewed calls for Air Canada to stop transporting monkeys destined for research labs.

The Humane Society International/Canada and the Animal Alliance of Canada urged the airline Tuesday to cease shipping animals for research, toxicity testing and other laboratory experiments.

In January, international animal protection organizations said Air Canada flew 48 monkeys from breeding farms in China to Quebec as cargo in wooden crates.

In a 1998 ruling, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled in favour of a shipper and against Air Canada when it attempted to refuse live cargo because it was headed to a laboratory.

Now the groups say a legal opinion from Lawyers for Animal Welfare concluded Air Canada is within its rights to reinstate its former policy by changing the wording of its cargo tariff.

"Air Canada has previously refused to ship animals for this purpose, and given the conclusions of our legal analysis and the suffering of the animals involved, we urge the airline to take immediate action to reinstate this policy," Liz White, director of Animal Alliance, said in a statement.

The groups said they submitted a copy of the legal opinion to Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu on July 8 requesting a response within 30 days but added they have not received an answer.

Air Canada spokesperson Peter.Fitzpatrick said the airline has no comment to offer on the unsolicited legal opinion.

"While the CTA now says we can change our tariff, you should note that in their ruling the CTA said explicitly that they do not believe that the carriage of monkeys causes annoyance to passengers (which is what determines whether we can discriminate against shippers) and the same test would be applied should we attempt to amend our tariffs," Fitzpatrick said in an email.

"There is nothing to make us believe the CTA would suddenly have a different opinion."

Air Canada is one of a small group of companies that still ships animals for research, according to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV), a British-based animal protection organization.

Major carriers that do not ship primates for research include British Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas Airways, Delta Airlines and China Airlines, according to the British group's website.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 06:56 PM   #1107
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Source : http://pic.feeyo.com/posts/541/5414474.html



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Old August 25th, 2011, 04:05 PM   #1108
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WestJet won’t ban pets from airplane cabins
The Canadian Press
Published On Wed Aug 24 2011

CALGARY—WestJet Airlines says it’s not interested in banning Fluffy and Fido from airplane cabins.

The Canadian Medical Association had suggested animals should travel in airplane cargo holds because they present serious risks for people with pet-related allergies in a setting in which it would be difficult to get them medical care quickly.

But the Calgary-based airline says passengers are kept apart if they say ahead of time that they’re travelling with a pet or that they have allergies. It also says its planes have good air filters to eliminate allergens.

Another option, it says, is to offer passengers with allergies a different flight with no dogs or cats on board.

WestJet says there have been only a handful of allergy-related incidents on its aircraft in the past 18 months.

Air Canada had a policy between 2006 and 2009 that banned pets in the passenger cabin, but reversed it.
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Old August 29th, 2011, 03:46 PM   #1109
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Air Canada flight attendants hope government won’t intervene in labour dispute
Published On Sun Aug 28 2011
The Canadian Press Excerpt

MONTREAL — The head of the union representing flight attendants at Air Canada hopes the federal government won’t intervene in the escalating labour dispute between the two sides.

The customer service agents hastily reached a new contract with the airline in June before the government lowered its legislative hammer.

The flight attendants have overwhelmingly rejected a tentative agreement reached with the airline this month.

CUPE says it is organizing a strike vote for next month and intends to talk to management about restarting negotiations.

The union said on Saturday that 87.8 per cent of those who voted gave the tentative agreement a thumbs down, with 78.6 per cent of members casting a vote.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 06:14 PM   #1110
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Source : http://pic.feeyo.com/posts/543/5434743.html

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Old October 12th, 2011, 06:37 PM   #1111
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Air Canada flight attendants blocked from striking
CBC News
Posted: Oct 11, 2011 11:56 AM ET

The federal government is referring the labour dispute between Air Canada and its flight attendants to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, a move that will prevent the employees from going on strike Thursday, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says.

"What it's meant to do is before there's a work stoppage, just to make sure that the work stoppage is not going to affect the health and safety of the public and that's what the CIRB will take a look at after hearing from the parties involved," Raitt said on CBC-TV's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon.

Raitt said the CIRB would have to consider what communities might be cut off from service to urban centres and what effect that would have on Canadians' health and safety. Raitt said she didn't know how long it would take the CIRB to render a decision.

Air Canada issued a statement late Tuesday that said the airline's representatives would appear before the CIRB as required.

"Further details are not available at this point. It will remain business as usual at Air Canada and all flights will continue to operate as scheduled," the company said.
P.O.V.:

Should Ottawa have intervened in the Air Canada labour dispute? Take our survey.

On Monday, Raitt said the government would intervene with back-to-work legislation if Air Canada flight attendants went on strike, and she suggested it would change the Canada Labour Code if it finds it necessary.
The issues

Air Canada flight attendants have rejected two proposed tentative agreements since their contract expired March 31, 2011. The first was rejected in August by a vote of 88 per cent, and the second deal, reached Sept. 20, was rejected by 65 per cent of those who participated in a ratification vote held across the country from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9. Voter turnout was 78 per cent in the first round and 73 per cent in the second. Below are some of the issues that have been prominent in the negotiations.

Low-cost airline: Probably the biggest sticking point in the negotiations is Air Canada's plan to set up a low-cost carrier to service "leisure routes" to sun destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean in order to compete with the likes of Air Transat and WestJet. Flight attendants fear such a move would poach routes away from the main carrier, threaten their job security and drive wages down. According to the union, the top wage at the low-cost airline would be only three-quarters of what veteran Air Canada flight attendants make (which is somewhere between $46,400 and $51,500 according to figures quoted by union and management representatives). Air Canada reportedly plans to hire 1,400 flight attendants and 460 pilots for the discount carrier. In the second tentative agreement, the union withdrew clauses in which it had given its support in principle for the discount airline.

Wages: The second agreement includes wage hikes of 9.3 per cent over four years. The first agreement had proposed an increase of 12.6 per cent over five years. The starting salary for a flight attendant is $18,000 a year, which union members complain puts them below the poverty line.

Pensions: CUPE agreed to a blended pension model for new hires which will combine a defined benefit plan, which guarantees a set payout at retirement, and a defined contribution plan, in which the payout is variable and which is less costly for the employer.

Duty days: Management agreed to compensate flight attendants for a greater portion of overnight shifts on domestic flights that include airport layovers. It agreed to the union's proposed "duty days minus four hours" model of compensation, meaning attendants would receive nine hours of wages for a 13-hour duty period as opposed to the current 6.5 hours of wages for such a shift. The changes wouldn't take effect until October 2012, which some union members feel is too long of an implementation period.

Banked time: Management reportedly withdrew an offer included in the first agreement to allow flight attendants to bank time for vacation days.

Per diems: Air Canada withdrew its offer to reduce the minimum length of a stopover required in order to have hotel room costs covered. It currently pays hotel costs only for stopovers of five hours or more but in the first agreement had offered to reduce this to four hours.

Premiums: Management scrapped new rules that had been proposed in the first agreement that would have obliged it to pay premiums to junior flight attendants for some on-call shifts.

But how soon a possible strike could be ended by government back-to-work legislation would have depended on how fast Parliament could get recalled — it is currently on a break until Oct. 17 — and how long the NDP might filibuster.

Earlier on Tuesday, CUPE, the union representing the flight attendants, said it was willing to continue negotiations with the airline to stave off the strike.

"We are ready to respond quickly to the employer," Jeff Taylor, president of CUPE's branch for Air Canada flight attendants, said in a statement.

"While no formal talks have taken place yet, we are ready to return to the table and find a way to keep our members and the public flying with a fair collective agreement."

The flight attendants, who are represented by CUPE, served a 72-hour strike notice on the airline on Sunday after 65 per cent of the votes cast were against the latest tentative collective agreement.

It marked the second time in recent months that the flight attendants have turned down a tentative deal with the airline.

They voted 87.8 per cent against ratifying the previous agreement in August.

Two people who said they are junior flight attendants told CBC News that a petition is being circulated to remove union management.

"I don't think they get us. I don't think they get what we're fighting for," said one flight attendant.

While a strike by flight attendants would undoubtedly have a major impact on Air Canada's ability to operate, the airline has said it will maintain a partial schedule operated by its regional carriers in the event of a work stoppage.

The airline has not released details on what that partial schedule might include.

The airline said regular Air Canada Express service between the Toronto Island airport and Montreal's Trudeau airport, and flights operated by its Star Alliance partner airlines on international and U.S. transborder routes, would remain unaffected.

Passengers with tickets to fly over the next six days on a rolling window will be allowed to change their travel dates at no charge until Dec. 15, the airline said.

People weighed in via social media on the latest labour developments.

"You think you are WAY more important than you really are," Melanie Pope wrote of the flight attendants on Air Canada's Facebook page.

"Take the deal and quit whining. I will never book another flight with Air Canada."

In response, Christopher Dempster wrote: "While I do not agree the strike is a wise move, I don't think it has anything to do with anyone thinking they are 'important.'"

Many other consumers posted on the page seeking information about flights and schedules in the event of a labour disruption.

On CBC.ca, community member "MattAbroad" wrote that his wife and two daughters, who are both under age four, have switched from a daytime flight to Vancouver on Thursday to an 11 p.m. flight on Wednesday night.

"Sorry, fellow travellers, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. is not really when my girls shine, but we didn't plan it this way," the post says.

"I don't like being made a pawn in disputes between labour and management."

WestJet said Tuesday it would add more domestic and cross-border flights, based on available crews and aircraft, in the event of a strike at its competitor.

"October is a slower part of the travel season," said Cam Kenyon, WestJet's executive vice-president of operations.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 05:55 AM   #1112
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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
Would you mind sharing what made you switch from CX/OW to AC/SA? Thank you.
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Old October 15th, 2011, 10:39 PM   #1113
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I had a few friends that experienced AC and they enjoyed it. I really didn't like CX's fixed shell seats, and plus, AC's fares to HKG were generally cheaper than CX.

I also got rexently caught up with the world of miles and points. CX.Asia Miles program was not rewarding (status wise). Other OW carriers programs didnt fit my flying patterns at all either. Star Alliance has much more flexible programs, and I found OZ's program and how easy it is to obtain status
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Old October 16th, 2011, 07:48 AM   #1114
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Thank you. I think you did okay. AC is doing quite fine, and you can't go wrong with their newish B777s.
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Old October 16th, 2011, 08:49 AM   #1115
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Yes, it's very difficult to get status with Asia Miles / Marco Polo. There simply are too many frequent flyers out of HK. The mileage requirement for gold is 50% more than AAdvantage. I recall getting to gold on AA in no time whereas 2 J flights to Sydney and a bunch of regional flights later, I couldn't even get to silver with CX.

Aeroplan's award availability is also tops among all the programs I have. Their engine is easy-to-use and there always is something available if you can tolerate a stop or two along the way.
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Old November 3rd, 2011, 07:56 PM   #1116
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Air Canada not the only carrier buckling up for labour turbulence
Published On Mon Oct 31 2011
Toronto Star

The bumpy ride that Air Canada has faced from its labour unions in recent months is not unique, as carriers worldwide struggle with competition and rising costs including fuel.

Air France’s flight attendants have disrupted service for three days in a row, affecting about one in five flights including long-haul service to Montreal, over company plans to reduce staffing levels on certain Airbus planes.

Over the weekend in Australia, Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce took the unusual and daring step of grounding its entire fleet after labour unions held rolling strikes and refused overtime for weeks.

The lockout — which Qantas estimated cost $20 million (Australian) a day — caught government officials off-guard, even stranding some Commonwealth leaders who were meeting in Perth.

The case moved to the courts, and an arbitration judge ordered everyone back to work on Monday. The unions are barred from any further job action, after forcing the cancellation of 600 flights in recent weeks.

At issue are concerns that the airline wants to expand its Jetstar brand — a discount airline started by Qantas in 2004 — to other destinations including China and cities in Asia. Unions at Qantas worry such a move will undercut their wages and jobs.

Air Canada, which reports its third-quarter earnings on Friday, is on record as wanting to start its own low-cost carrier to “sun” destinations down south and to Europe, to compete with Air Transat and other discount airlines.

But unions are balking at such a plan, especially pilots who rejected a tentative deal in May that included an item on a possible discount carrier for which wages would be lower and duty hours would be longer.

In June, customer-service agents, represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union, went on strike for three days, but settled just as Labour Minister Lisa Raitt was preparing to introduce back-to-work legislation.

Flight attendants had threatened to strike twice, setting firm deadlines in September and October, but were blocked from walking off the job when Raitt referred the matter to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The two sides have agreed to binding arbitration, with a ruling expected in a week.

York University business professor Fred Lazar says the labour questions at Qantas and Air Canada appear to be mirror images, with both companies trying to save their bottom lines.

Qantas, like Air Canada, operates in a small domestic market, where labour laws are pro-union, compared with competitors in Asia or the Middle East, he said. Add in bigger labour costs and higher fees to land at airports in Canada and Australia, Lazar said it’s tough to compete.

“Jetstar and the Qantas loyalty program, that’s what keeping Qantas alive,” he said. “Without Jetstar, Qantas may have gone into bankruptcy.”

While Air Canada’s main competition has been U.S. and European carriers, Lazar said, “It’s only a matter of time before Air Canada will face the type of competition that Qantas is facing.”

Ultimately, he believes the key will be for governments to make it clear they won’t bail out these carriers, so unions will have to live with the realities.

Yet in recent weeks, Air Canada appears to have the government’s support in its battle with labour.

Charlotte Yates, McMaster University’s dean of social science who specializes in labour studies, said Air Canada’s actions show “they feel emboldened to push back on the unions that we have not seen before.”

She pointed to Air Canada’s judicial review application over a pension ruling by respected arbitrator Kevin Burkett who sided with CAW on a hybrid pension formula for new hires.

Air Canada withdrew the application a day after CAW president Ken Lewenza threatened job action, but Yates says the attempt, which had slim chance of success in court, shows the airline isn’t serious about collective bargaining.

The Harper government has signalled its willingness to introduce back-to-work legislation as it did for postal workers who were locked out by Canada Post in June. That union has launched a constitutional challenge over the law.

Yates argued this type of intervention hurts labour relations, because parties don’t feel they need to focus on bargaining.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 03:34 AM   #1117
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Quote:
Unions ground Air Canada's low-cost carrier plan

By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Months of labor conflict have stalled Air Canada's plans for a low-cost carrier, but Canada's biggest airline says it has not given up the idea.

Air Canada, which teetered on the edge of bankruptcy two years ago, has struggled to bring down costs and turn consistent profits, and Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu says the low-cost leisure market is too good an opportunity to ignore.

"We remain of the view that participation in the low-cost market is critical to achieving sustainable profitability at Air Canada," he said on last Friday's earnings call.

The new business, proposed last spring and initially tipped for a mid 2012 start, would compete on low-yield, high-volume international destinations like Amsterdam, Dublin and Nice, as well as southern vacation spots.

But Rovinescu has said repeatedly that he will not go ahead unless he can ensure the new business will be genuinely low-cost. For that, he will need concessions on wages or benefits from Air Canada's unions.

Established airlines have often sought to launch separate brands to compete with low-cost entrants like Southwest Airlines or EasyJet. The newer arrivals operate with fewer workers, lower pay or a single type of plane, reducing maintenance costs.

But Air Canada, whose previous low-cost airlines were quickly folded into the mainline carrier, has struggled to persuade its four major unions to support its plan.

A new collective agreement for flight attendants includes no mention of the low-cost carrier. The attendants rejected an earlier contract that included provisions on the new carrier.

In interviews, union leaders are uniformly critical.

"Pilots still have to do the same. Why then would one carry lower compensation?" said Paul Strachan, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association, which in May also voted down a tentative deal that included the low-cost carrier.

Rovinescu was quoted last year as saying he hoped to launch the low-cost carrier within a year, but this August he said it was unlikely anything substantial would happen before 2013. But without real progress in discussions with the pilots' union, the carrier will not take off.

UNIONS HOSTILE TO PLAN

Strachan said other carriers keep costs low by only flying one type of aircraft, while Rovinescu has said the new carrier's 50-strong fleet would need to include both narrow- and wide-body planes.

Rovinescu said last week that the airline's contract with airport check-in and call-center staff "would not prohibit" a low-cost carrier. Lower wages for new hires have been in that agreement since before the latest round of bargaining, but there is no explicit mention of the new carrier.

Chuck Atkinson, president of the union that represents mechanics and baggage handlers, said his unit does not yet have a position on the new carrier, but he expressed misgivings.

"What's happening at Qantas now gives us some concern, because it seems the low-cost carrier is expanding much more than the mainline carrier," he said.

Lower wages paid by Qantas Airways' low-cost carrier Jetstar have angered workers at the Australian airline, and that, combined with plans to expand low-cost operations, were big factors in a labor dispute that grounded the entire Qantas fleet last month. [ID:nL4E7LV0CQ]

Most analysts say it is too early to judge the Air Canada initiative.

"It can't go ahead without the unions' support, so we're just going to have to wait and see," said Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman.

Air Canada has tried to launch low-cost carriers before. Zip Air, created in 2002 to compete with WestJet Airlines, shut down in 2004. Tango, which flew in Canada and the United States, was folded into the main fleet in 2003 after about two years in operation.

Rovinescu has said the new airline would focus on international leisure markets and would not cannibalize existing business, something that was the case for Tango.

Independent airline consultant Robert Kokonis questioned Air Canada's priorities.

"Air Canada needs to focus on operating and managing the core airline," he said. "When you open up a separate division, it could potentially take management's eye off the ball."

Several major carriers have failed to succeed with low-cost brands. British Airways sold off its money-losing regional budget carrier BA Connect in 2006, a year after the demise of Delta Air Lines' Song. United Airlines shut its four-year-old budget brand Ted in 2008.

(Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Narayanan Somasundaram in Sydney; Editing by Janet Guttsman)
(Reuters, 2011)

I tend to feel that Air Canada should focus on reducing costs and improving its current product rather than starting off a new carrier.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 03:41 AM   #1118
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Quote:
WestJet aims to return to New York’s LaGuardia Airport



WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA-T12.23-0.10-0.81%) has the Big Apple on its radar again in hopes of adding a second airport to its service in the New York region.

WestJet will be bidding for takeoff and landing slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, part of its U.S. expansion strategy and efforts to attract more business travellers. Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey is already on WestJet’s route map.

The Calgary-based carrier also has Washington’s Reagan National Airport in its sights.

WestJet chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said Wednesday that slot packages are available through an auction.

“We do expect the bidding to be aggressive. I think those are very valuable slots,” he said during a conference call with analysts.

WestJet offers seasonal Calgary-Newark service, from late April to late October. But WestJet hasn’t offered flights between Toronto and the New York area since 2005, when it withdrew from LaGuardia after less than a year of service.

Still, Mr. Saretsky noted that WestJet has partnership pacts with Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Inc. On the route between Toronto and New York’s JFK International Airport, for instance, consumers are able to book trips on WestJet’s website for flights operated by American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines.

WestJet will eye the Toronto-LaGuardia route because a non-stop flight from Calgary would exceed the limits on the length of flights allowed into LaGuardia.

National Bank Financial Inc. analyst Cameron Doerksen said WestJet is one of seven carriers vying for the slots up for grabs in New York and Washington, but “we believe WestJet’s interest is primarily in the LaGuardia slots to establish a competitive presence on the Toronto-New York route.”

Analysts caution that WestJet faces tough rivals for the slots at auction, notably competing bids from Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp.

Even if WestJet is unsuccessful in its LaGuardia quest, it will soon be able to allow passengers to more easily book trips through its co-operation deal with Delta. Starting in the first quarter of 2012, WestJet plans to become a code-share partner with Delta.

Delta has an “interline” agreement with WestJet, and the code-share pact will forge even closer ties, especially for online bookings and frequent-flier benefits.

WestJet, which has code-sharing deals with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and KLM, recently added Air India as its 13th interline partner to bolster electronic ticketing and baggage transfers.

WestJet also released its financial results Wednesday, announcing that its third-quarter profit slipped 10 per cent to $39.3-million, hurt by jet fuel costs that climbed to 89 cents a litre from 70 cents. Quarterly share profit fell 2 cents to 28 cents, missing analysts’ forecasts, but revenue rose 13 per cent to $775.3-million.

The airline is slated to add its 97th Boeing 737 by the end of December, with plans to have 100 of the planes in the fleet in 2012.

While WestJet will be deploying a leased Boeing 757 between Alberta and Hawaii this winter, Mr. Saretsky said no decision has been made to diversify beyond 737s. “It is something that we’re consistently studying – the segment of the market that would be better served by smaller planes and then the segment that would be better served by larger planes,” he said.

WestJet is forecasting $100-million in extra revenue annually from airline partnerships within five years.

Mr. Doerksen noted that WestJet’s frequent flier program is being expanded, clearing the way for increased co-operation with hotel and car rental partners.
(The Globe and Mail, 2011)
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Old November 15th, 2011, 06:37 PM   #1119
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Conciliator named to Air Canada pilots case
2011/11/14 16:22:00
Toronto Star

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt has named a conciliator in the hopes of hammering out an agreement between Air Canada and its 3,000 pilots.

With Paul Macdonnell’s appointment last Thursday, it essentially starts the countdown to a possible strike or lockout in the new year.

Under the Canada Labour Code, the conciliator is assigned for 60 days, but the period can be extended if the parties agree. If no deal is reached, then a 21-day cooling off period begins, and with 72 hours’ notice, a strike or lockout could occur.

But Paul Strachan, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association, said his union has no plans for any job action, noting no strike vote has taken place.

“We’re not on strike. We have no plans to do so,” said Strachan. “We’re not escalating the situation. What we want to do is bargain.”

The pilots were caught off guard last month when Air Canada filed a notice of dispute, requesting that a conciliator be appointed.

“It’s more of a tactic on Air Canada’s part,” Strachan said. “I’m not sure why they want to put time pressures on unless they don’t really want to bargain.”

The union reached a tentative agreement with the airline in the spring, but the pilots rejected the deal. Rank-and-file members were so upset with the deal, which included the possibility of a new discount airline with lower wages and longer hours that they voted out several top union officials.

New elections were held, and the new bargaining committee has surveyed pilots on their demands, said Strachan.

No talks have been held yet, though the pilots had proposed Nov. 23 to restart bargaining.

Air Canada has said it asked for a conciliator to help facilitate an agreement, given the time elapsed since the last deal was voted down.

“At this point, we are waiting for the conciliator to get in touch and we are available to resume talks,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.

“We welcome his appointment and look forward to any assistance he can offer in reaching the renewal of a collective agreement between the company and ACPA.”
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Old November 17th, 2011, 01:00 PM   #1120
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WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky shares some light on Westjet's future operations and its positioning in the aviation industry. Nothing too surprising.

Given how Air Canada is really the only international legacy carrier of Canada, I was hoping WestJet could consider joining an alliance so that I would have more choices when choosing international destinations. But honestly, since WestJet is Canada's only other carrier, it seems that them not joining an alliance is getting the best of both worlds from SkyTeam and OneWorld. This is especially the case at YVR, with so many Asian carriers partnering with WestJet either through interline agreements or codeshare agreements, just constantly feeding onto the WestJet network.

As for the business class point he brings up, I honestly can't agree with him, though I understand why he says this. WestJet is definitely not in the position of introducing a premium business class, and I don't think it should domestically anyway. But as a passenger, I would hate walking off of a First Class CX flight to sit in an Economy Class seat. It's a short ride I know, but it's still quite a big change in experience. I think WestJet can at least improve a bit on its "premium side" by introducing ideas such as blocking off the middle seat, or complimentary lounge invitations (note WestJet doesn't have its own lounge).

Quote:
Transcript: WestJet's global strategy
Special to Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 6:00AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 12:01PM EST



Karl Moore: This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today I am delighted to be in Calgary at WestJet’s gleaming new head office to talk to their new CEO, Gregg Saretsky.

Good afternoon, Gregg.

Gregg Saretsky: Hi, Karl.

KM: So Gregg, you have recently signed an agreement with KLM, certainly you’ve been, for a couple years now, with Cathay Pacific – where do you see the international partnerships of WestJet going forward? What does the future hold?

GS: It’s a really big part of our strategy; obviously we are continuing to grow. We have 39 new planes on order and the Canadian market isn’t growing as fast as the number of planes arriving in our fleet are, so we are connecting our network, which is strictly within North America, to international networks owned by these large global carriers. We have 15 code-shared and inter-line partners currently.

KM: So, is it that you are providing the North American network for them? Is that the part WestJet is going to play?

GS: Well, that is exactly right. What happens these days is that these carriers have limited access to Canada; they are flying only to the West Coast, for example from Asia Pacific, or only to Toronto. In many cases the Canadian bilaterals don’t commit more access than that, so they are blocked at the gateway, if you will, and our job is to distribute and give them access to the rest of Canada.

KM: How much of a problem is it that you don’t have business class? A lot of these mainline carriers would have that, is that a relatively small or an obstacle you have had to wrestle with?

GS: Not particularly. I like to say that our whole plane is business class – leather seats, seat-back televisions, 32-inch seat pitch, great friendly service, and we ask carriers like Cathay Pacific, “How does that work if somebody flies on a $10,000 fare from Hong Kong to Calgary?” and they say, “Well they get the lie-flat experience from Hong Kong to Vancouver and for the last leg they get the WestJet experience” and it hasn’t been a barrier to sell.

KM: One World, Star Team, and Air Canada Star Alliance; why don’t you join one of the other big alliances?

GS: It’s a great question, Karl, and the way I look at it is we like to pick and choose the best carriers from each of these respective geographies – some happen to be with one global alliance, some happen to be with the others. As a lot of things that WestJet does, we like to deal with the best, so we have been able to pick and choose and have chosen not to join a global alliance at this point.

KM: Some people see the world as being really three big alliances will be the dominant, in fact we might even see, as we have seen with BA and Iberia, Lufthansa and Swiss and Austrian, increasing mega-carriers – do you see a new world of three mega-mega-carriers than everyone else?

GS: It seems to be evolving a bit that way but I think there is an opportunity still for an alliance of low-cost carriers. I was at an international conference recently in New York and sat with the CEO of Gol, a Brazilian low-cost carrier, and he said, “Yeah, we have been studying WestJet and we think that there is an opportunity to connect the Brazilian low-cost carrier with the Canadian low-cost carrier and maybe together we can hook up with some other low-cost carriers and create this great low-cost network.” So I think the space in international alliances is still evolving.
(via Globe And Mail)
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