WestJet reportedly plans to sign five cooperation agreements with foreign carriers over the next 18 months in a bid to compete with Air Canada (ctv.ca, 03-Jun-2010). Foreign carriers WestJet is targeting reportedly include British Airways, Japan Airlines, Mexicana, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines and Emirates.
WestJet planning to sign five cooperation agreements with foreign carriers
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Air Canada and Virgin Australia codeshare, in a North American market dominated by Qantas
From early 2017 Air Canada and Virgin Australia introduce a tidy new partnership. Virgin Australia receives improved access to Canada – a market its JV partner Delta cannot sufficiently cover from their shared Los Angeles gateway. Air New Zealand's sixth freedom option, via Auckland, is the third largest transportation choice by Canadians visiting Australia. Since Virgin noisily fell out with Air NZ, the Australian airline is looking to reassert itself in Australia-North America markets that it had quietly let Air NZ dominate. Virgin has already announced plans to resume trans-Pacific services from Melbourne, which Air NZ took traffic from.
Air Canada is growing in Australia, expanding from its 2007 Sydney service with a 2016 Brisbane service, and perhaps soon Melbourne as well. Air Canada needs a partner for domestic and New Zealand connections as it expands its footprint and grows ahead of market demand. There is some conflict, since Air Canada - as it does for its expanding Asia and Europe presence – will look for USA sixth freedom traffic. Air Canada has favourable connections via Vancouver to a handful of American cities, including New York.
Air Canada Part 2: Financial progress makes investment grade metrics more tangible
A decade ago it would have been unheard of for Air Canada to contemplate reaching an investment grade credit rating. The airline had emerged from bankruptcy protection, but was still struggling financially. It would teeter on the verge of another formal restructuring before setting out on a course to restructure its financial foundation – a process that has allowed the airline to improve its balance sheet and leverage.
Air Canada’s leverage targets for YE2018 will not meet the general proxy for an investment grade rating; however, its lower capital commitments and debt refinancing could create an opportunity for achieving that status beyond 2018.
Attaining an investment grade credit rating likely remains a longer term goal for Air Canada as its major financial goals in the short term remain paying down debt that is creeping up due to a fleet renewal, as well as funding growth to drive long-term shareholder value. More meaningful shareholder returns will likely occur once the company reaches what it deems as acceptable progress in debt management, and reaches a certain maturity level in growing its international network.
This is Part 2 in a two part series on Air Canada. Part 1 dealt with long haul LCC subsidiary, rouge.