Air Canada is revamping its Aeroplan loyalty program in an effort boost membership amid a global travel industry devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relaunch on Nov. 8 will allow all members to book seats on any Air Canada flight using Aeroplan points, a change from the current model where seat inventory is limited.
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world’s longest bi-national land border. Canada’s capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Various indigenous peoples inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years before European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast. As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with a monarch and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the Cabinet and head of government. The country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and officially bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada’s long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
A developed country, Canada has the seventeenth-highest nominal per-capita income globally as well as the thirteenth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Air Canada to launch revamped Aeroplan program in November …
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It will eliminate the carrier surcharge — which varies from less than $25 to the high hundreds — on flights purchased with points, though a $39 fee applies for trips operated by Air Canada’s partner airlines.
Members will also be able to share points with up to eight friends and family members, combining them in a pool anyone in the group may put toward a trip.
Air Canada to launch revamped Aeroplan program in November …
The airline hopes the relaunch, planned after it reacquired the rewards program from Aimia Inc. in January 2019, will add another two million members before 2024 to the five million-plus who already hold Aeroplan cards.
The new program, based in part on feedback from thousands of consumers, “is more important than ever as airlines compete to earn and retain customer loyalty in a rapidly changing environment,” CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a statement Tuesday.
Passenger revenues at the Montreal-based airline dropped by 95 per cent year over year in its second quarter, prompting 20,000 layoffs as the airline burned through $19 million of cash per day amid border closures and a collapse in demand stemming from the coronavirus.
Air Canada made last-minute tweaks to the loyalty revamp in response to the outbreak, prioritizing partnerships with the Uber Eats app and other companies yet to be announced, said Mark Nasr, head of loyalty and e-commerce at the company.
“We did a lot of soul-searching as COVID-19 developed,” Nasr said. “We really accelerated these ‘every day’ partnerships.”
The points that members earn on purchases via eligible retail, hotel and credit card partners will count toward to the tally required to reach the lowest rung of “elite status” — 25,000 kilometres of air travel in a year.
For example, an Uber Eats purchase of $50 would yield 100 points for Aeroplan members, and another 50 to 75 points if it was made through a TD Aeroplan Visa card.
Frequent travellers in one of Aeroplan’s five elite categories will be able to share benefits such as lounge access and priority boarding with friends and family, even if they are not flying together.
The Aeroplan transition will maintain members’ account numbers, with Aeroplan miles honoured on a one-to-one basis, Air Canada said.
The new system will base the number of points earned for a given flight on airfare rather than distance, which currently provides the baseline. That means the points gap between a flight to Asia and a flight across the country will likely narrow, since the difference in distance is often greater than the difference in price.
Meanwhile the new, more flexible pricing model — Air Canada has posted a “points predictor” tool on its website — also means more popular routes and times will cost more points than under the current fixed system, while off-peak times and less popular routes will be cheaper, said National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen.
“We see this as margin-enhancing for Air Canada as it will be able to effectively charge market prices for rewards seats for more popular flights. In addition, it will allow the airline to enhance load factors on less popular flights,” Doerksen said in a research note.
A flight between Toronto and Vancouver will cost between 25,000 and 35,000 points, according to the points predictor.
The added incentive to use Aeroplan credit cards comes as a welcome change for Air Canada credit card partners Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Visa and American Express.
Air Canada has said credit card penetration for so-called elite flyers is only 38 per cent versus about 50 per cent for most U.S. airlines.