Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
TORONTO — Air Canada is taking back control of the valuable Aeroplan loyalty business that it created in 1984 and spun off in 2002, and Aimia is getting the price it wanted all along: $450 million.
The Air Canada-led consortium including TD Bank, CIBC and Visa Canada Corp. announced today that it had struck a deal in principle to acquire Aeroplan, agreeing to pay $450 million in cash and assume the $1.9-billion liability associated with Aeroplan miles customers have accumulated.
The new offer almost doubles the consortium’s initial offer of $250 million in cash and the assumption of the reward point liability. That offer, made in July, was rejected by Aimia, however Aimia maintained that it would keep the door open to a ‘fair deal’ from the group.
The transaction is expected to close this fall.
“We are pleased to see that an agreement in principle has been reached as Aeroplan members can continue to earn and redeem with confidence,” Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a statement on behalf of the consortium Tuesday.
“This transaction, if completed, should produce the best outcome for all stakeholders, including Aeroplan members, as it would allow for a smooth transition to Air Canada’s new loyalty program launching in 2020, safeguarding their miles and providing convenience and value for millions of Canadians.”
The future of the program has faced questions since Air Canada announced last year that it planned to launch its own loyalty rewards plan in 2020 when its partnership with Aimia expires.
After rejecting the consortium’s initial offer on Aug. 2, Aimia announced a new deal with Porter Airlines effective July 2020. Less than a week later came news that Aimia was also signing Aeroplan partnership agreements with Air Transat and Flair Airlines, also effective July 2020.
Air Canada created Aeroplan as its in-house loyalty program, but it was spun off as an independent business as part of a court-supervised restructuring of the airline.
Michael Deluce, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Porter Airlines, says Porter Airlines is aware that Aimia has reached a preliminary agreement with the consortium led by Air Canada to acquire the Aeroplan loyalty program.
Deluce told Travelweek: “Porter recognized from the outset that Aeroplan may be purchased prior to its agreement taking effect in July 2020. If the consortium enters into a final definitive agreement with Aimia, we will then be in a position to comment on the impact to Porter’s agreement at that time.”
Transat Chief Distribution Officer Joseph Adamo, is of the same mind, telling Travelweek: “From the start of talks, we were well aware that this could be the eventual outcome. That’s why we planned to reach a final agreement with Aimia at a later date. We are discussing next steps with Aimia.”
With files from The Canadian Press