Aimia’s largest shareholder backs co on Aeroplan loyalty sale

An Air Transat Airbus A330 lands at Montreal's Trudeau

The Aeroplan partnership dance keeps getting more interesting every day.

Aimia, however, rejected the Air Canada consortium offer and then announced the Porter deal.

Aimia Inc. has signed two more Aeroplan partnership agreements with two Canadian airlines that will take effect in roughly two years, after its current agreement with Air Canada ends in 2020.

Aeroplan's millions of members earn Aeroplan Miles with its growing network of over 75 world-class partners, representing more than 150 brands in the financial, retail, and travel sectors.

As for Aeroplan's value, Mr. Mittleman said that when Air Canada announced in May, 2017, that it would not renew its Aeroplan contract in 2020, the airline said it would build an in-house loyalty program that would create a value of $2-billion to the company - many times what the consortium offered for Aeroplan.

The two deals gives Aeroplan customers much better flight coverage in Canada than they had last week, but it's still not as strong as what Air Canada would've provided.

Leisure carrier Air Transat and Flair Airlines have joined Porter Airlines as new members of the Aeroplan loyalty programme.

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The biggest change for most Canadians is probably the Transat partnership, which means travellers in Canada will be able to fly within the country on Air Transat, and also fly to popular sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as to Transat destinations in Europe.

The bidders, it seems, have seized on the fear that Aeroplan members will rush to redeem their miles before Air Canada's contract with Aeroplan expires in 2020, thus creating a rush of cash out the door for Aimia.

The airline sector is one which even numerous most prominent investors tend to steer clear of, for good reason.

Last week, Aimia rejected the consortium's July 25 bid of $250 million cash and the assumption of about $2 billion of Aeroplan points liability. MR. Mittleman, however, argued that "even during the 2003 bankruptcy [court filing] of Air Canada, there was no run on the bank".

Aimia's three new preferred partner fleets add up to a fraction of Air Canada's, but Aimia has also been in discussions with the Oneworld airline alliance, whose members include British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. "Our arrangement with Aeroplan helps further that commitment", said Jim Scott, CEO Flair Airlines.

"We are thrilled about this agreement in principle", said Joseph Adamo, chief distribution officer at Transat.

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