Air Canada Reaches Deal With Amex to Remain Partner Under New Loyalty Program

Feb 28, 2019

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Air Canada announced on Thursday a new 10-year partnership with American Express. On Thursday, during its annual Investor Day presentation, Air Canada said this will lead to the release of “a suite of new consumer and business cards in 2020” simultaneous with the launch of Air Canada’s new in-house loyalty program.

This partnership also assures that Air Canada’s mileage program will continue to be a partner of American Express Membership Rewards after the switch from Aeroplan to the new unnamed program. The prior agreement was only in place with Aeroplan through mid-2020.

In the Investor Day presentation, Air Canada’s VP of Loyalty and eCommerce Mark Nasr said that the airline’s partnership with Canadian banks is more important to its Canadian members, but this American Express credit card agreement allows “deep penetration into the US market.”

However, details of the new program are still slim. In the same presentation, Nasr said that while the airline is about halfway done with planning its “Capital L Loyalty” program, it’s “premature” to share details at this time.

Image from Air Canada's 2019 Investor Day presentation, February 28, 2019.
Image from Air Canada’s 2019 Investor Day presentation.

Instead, the detail that was highlighted in the presentation is Air Canada management’s insistence that the new loyalty program has a “net present value in excess of $2.5B.” Some may see that as especially aggressive considering the airline purchased Aeroplan for a fraction of that, or CA$450 million.

In case you missed that saga, Air Canada and Aeroplan are officially back together after a long and sometimes painful separation. On January 10, 2019 — 17 years after Air Canada spun off its loyalty program as a separate company — the airline completed its re-acquisition of the Aeroplan loyalty program for US$345 million.

This purchase came shortly after Air Canada announced that it’d be launching a new in-house loyalty program and ending the partnership with Aeroplan in 2020. After that announcement, the stock of Aeroplan’s parent company tanked and Air Canada bought Aeroplan back for cents on the dollar.

But even with the re-acquisition of what Air Canada management is now referring to as the “best travel rewards program in Canada,” the airline is still pressing forward with the creation of a new loyalty program.

Aeroplan’s five million members are assured that that Aeroplan miles are still worth collecting. Almost immediately after Air Canada made its first bid to purchase Aeroplan, an airline representative assured me that points will transfer from Aeroplan to Air Canada’s new program at a 1:1 rate. This transfer ratio is still being reflected on Aeroplan’s program update FAQ website:

Image captured on Aeroplan's website on February 28, 2019.
Image captured on Aeroplan’s program update website on February 28, 2019.

Featured image by JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

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