Groupe Aeroplan relaunched (05-Oct-2011) its name and global brand identity as Aimia, effective immediately. As the company broadened its global loyalty management services offering over recent years, the Groupe Aeroplan identity, which was derived from the name of the original frequent flyer business and remains closely connected with the Aeroplan programme in Canada, was no longer an accurate reflection of the company. The names and brand identities of consumer facing brands Aeroplan, Nectar (Chile, Italy and the UK) and Air Miles Middle East will remain unchanged. The company's business-to-business brands – LMG Insight & Communication and Carlson Marketing – will now operate under the name Aimia. Effective 07-Oct-2011, the company's ticker symbols on the Toronto Stock Exchange will be changed and its common shares and cumulative rate reset preferred shares, Series 1 will begin trading under the symbols AIM and AIM.PR.A, respectively. [more - original PR][more - Airline Leader analysis]
Groupe Aeroplan adopts new name and global brand identity
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Cathay Pacific adds A350 to Vancouver, preparing for Hong Kong Airlines' long haul entry
Cathay Pacific's fortunes have been weakened in recent years as competition mounts, mostly from greater regional capacity, some of which feeds other airlines' long haul hubs. Locally Cathay has faced home market competition from Hong Kong Airlines and LCC HK Express, which together have weakened Cathay on its regional services. Yet Cathay has been relatively insulated from the growing direct competition on long haul routes, which have supported its network in recent times and account for a high share of revenue.
Hong Kong Airlines is growing long haul to Australia and New Zealand, but its major threat to Cathay is on North American and European routes, to be launched with forthcoming A350s. Cathay appears to be making a pre-emptive strike by deploying its attention-getting A350 to increase flights to Vancouver, which Cathay expects to be an early Hong Kong Airlines destination.
This is the first time that Cathay is growing Vancouver since the entry of Oasis Hong Kong in 2007. After Oasis' subsequent collapse Cathay withdrew the additional capacity it had mounted. Hong Kong Airlines, however, has stronger backing – HNA – and is already known in the territory. Hong Kong Airlines' impact is guaranteed, but the question is to what extent. This depends on how Hong Kong Airlines sharpens as it becomes the city's second flagship airline.
Singapore Airlines promotes ASEAN-EU/Japan/Korea open skies to gain more USA fifth freedom flights
Linking Asia with North America has been the market cornerstone for Korean Air and Cathay Pacific while producing a growth market for relatively new entrants like ANA and EVA Air. Yet, while northeast Asian airlines have the geography for profitable nonstop North America flying, southeast Asian airlines are challenged in serving the route.
Singapore Airlines feels the need for a significant North American presence to diversify its network and offset pressure from Gulf airlines, which have profoundly weakened SIA in its core Asia-Europe and Australia-Europe markets. Although Singapore Airlines plans to resume nonstop North American flights, these are token services for strategic purposes.
The primary objective has to be securing more fifth freedom rights for one-stop service. Singapore is encouraging the ASEAN bloc to secure open skies with Japan, Korea and the EU since open skies will entail unlimited fifth freedom rights. Korea is unlikely to agree, with Japan hesitant. Fifth freedom liberalisation is a contentious item in the otherwise benign EU-ASEAN negotiations. Countries worry that granting unlimited fifths opens Pandora's box to growth – not just from SIA, but any number of airlines that are quiescent today but could aspire to be powerhouses in the future.