Transat cancels Western Canada flights to USA & South, delays Air Canada deal

Transat waives change fees, releases Q1 results

MONTREAL — Transat has announced that it is waiving change fees on existing bookings, offering travellers increased flexibility and peace of mind.

The policy applies to all flights and packages booked before March 4, 2020, for travel by April 30, 2020.

As such, all customers who have booked a flight or package to any destination offered by Transat, for travel by April 30 can change their travel dates, hotel or destination – or all three- once at no charge, towards travel completed by Dec. 31, 2020.

Customers who wish to cancel their reservation can use the credit towards subsequent travel completed by Dec. 31, 2020.

Changes to individual bookings can be made up to three days prior to departure. Should there be a pricing disparity between the initial booking and the new booking, customers will have to pay the supplement, and no refund will be given should the price be lower than the initial price.

To change existing individual bookings for travel by April 30, 2020, made on its website or via its customer contact centre, clients must fill out a form available here.

Changes to group bookings can be made up to 21 days before departure (certain conditions apply).

The new policy comes on the heels of Transat’s just-released first-quarter results, ended Jan. 31, 2020. Though showing some improvement, the company says that the coronavirus pandemic makes the rest of 2020 difficult to predict. Daily bookings have been lower than last year’s since Feb. 24, and the difference has increased significantly in recent days amid the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Since it’s impossible for Transat to predict the effect on future bookings, it will not provide an outlook for the second quarter or for the summer.

Despite the many unknowns, Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat, is optimistic about the future.

“Transat has already faced several epidemiological threats in the past, including SARS and H1N1, and I firmly believe that the resilience of our teams and our solid balance sheet will enable us to deal with risks and difficulties ones again. We’re taking all the necessary measures to allow our clients to travel with peace of mind,” he said.

Transat posted revenues of $692.8 million for the quarter, up $45.2 million, or 7%, compared with 2019. This increase was attributable to the 10.8% increase in the number of traveller sin the Sun destinations program, the company’s main program for the winter season, resulting from the decision to increase capacity.

Operations generated an operating loss of $25.1 million, compared with $48.6 million in 2019, an improvement of $23.6 million. Its adjusted operating income was $27.4 million compared with an adjusted operating loss of $7.6 million in 2019, an improvement of $34.9 million.

Looking ahead to Q2 in the Sun destinations market, Transat’s capacity is higher than the previous year by 5%. A total of 83% of this capacity has been sold and load factors are 1.7% lower than those of 2019.

With regard to summer bookings in the transatlantic market (Transat’s main market during the summer), the company’s capacity is up 3% compared with 2019. Currently, 34% of seats have been sold, while load factors are 1.7% lower and selling prices are down 5.7% compared with the same date last year.

Shareholders at Transat, which owns Air Transat, approved a $720-million acquisition offer from Air Canada last year. The deal still requires regulatory approvals.