The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Air Canada on upswing despite headline-catching events, says CEO

  • Print
An Air Canada jet is de-iced at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Dec. 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Enlarge Image

An Air Canada jet is de-iced at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Dec. 22, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

MONTREAL - Air Canada's financial turnaround and brand aren't undermined by a few high-profile incidents such the temporary loss of Olympic snowboarding equipment and weather disruptions, the airline's CEO said Monday.

"It ruins none of the gains that we're making," Calin Rovinescu told reporters after addressing the Canadian Club of Montreal.

The country's largest airline has boosted its profits, launched a low-cost carrier, wiped out its large pension deficit and has seen its stock more than triple in the past year.

Yet, it attracted prominent headlines after misplacing the sporting equipment, denying a flight to an Alberta soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, losing a dog it was transporting and seeing the flight plans of thousands of customers disrupted when severe winter weather hit Toronto.

"Like in every single one of the airlines that operate in the world, there will be an occasional situation...but in the overall scale of things, when you look at the success — best airline in North America, best performing stock on the stock exchange, best airline in Canada for business travel — I think that we're on the right path."

Earlier, Rovinescu told the business leaders that 2013 was a great year in which Air Canada demonstrated that it can be a "sustainably profitable global company" and a "brand ambassador for both Canada and commercial aviation."

Air Canada announced Monday that it was adding new routes and additional flights from Toronto and Montreal to sun destinations on its low-cost Rouge subsidiary this spring and summer as it continues to transfer older aircraft from its main fleet.

Montreal will benefit the most with 36 per cent more seats being available and 20 per cent more flights with the introduction of Rouge flights to resort destinations in Cuba, Mexico and Haiti.

New Rouge destinations from Toronto include Tampa, Fla., Barbados and Nassau.

Rovinescu said the addition of more year-round Caribbean destinations to Air Canada Rouge's network enables the carrier to compete more effectively on these routes because Rouge operates at 21 to 29 per cent lower cost than using the same planes in the mainline fleet.

Air Canada is also increasing competition to Europe next summer by expanding capacity by 30 per cent. It will fly more Boeing 777s outfitted with more seats to major cities and add new destinations on Rouge from Canada's two largest cities. Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, Manchester and Venice will be serviced from Toronto while flights from Montreal will include Athens, Barcelona, Rome and Nice.

The head of Trudeau International Airport said the changes are "encouraging."

"There's a lot of lift going to Europe this summer so there's lots of good opportunities," Aeroports de Montreal CEO James Cherry said following the speech.

Transat A.T. (TSX:TRZ.B) has said it will increase transatlantic capacity by two per cent next summer. WestJet (TSX:WJA) is also launching service to Dublin from Toronto and St. John's, NL.

Analyst David Tyerman of Canaccord Genuity said there is a risk for all carriers that increased capacity will weaken yields.

"It's going to come down to route by route. Ireland sounds like it's definitely going to be a battle."

Meanwhile, Rovinescu said Bombardier's decision to delay the entry into service of its CSeries commercial jet won't affect the airline's decision on whether it will select the aircraft to complete the replacement of its narrowbody fleet.

"I think it's going to be a very good airplane no matter what and the delays in and of themselves are not something that are a factor at this stage for us," he said, adding that he hopes to know more by July.

Rovinescu also said reversing a large pension solvency deficit has been achieved earlier than expected and that efforts to add new routes to China from Montreal are being delayed by the lack of available landing slots and suitable flight connections.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada's shares, which rose the most of any Canadian company last year, fell 53 cents or 5.7 per to $8.70 on Monday.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What should the city do with the 102-year-old Arlington Street bridge?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google