Canadian Mileage Drama: Aeroplan Owner Rejects Air Canada Bid, Talks With Oneworld

Aug 3, 2018

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Well, that escalated quickly. Last week, we got the news that Air Canada was experiencing potential-breakup regret with its long-term mileage program Aeroplan. Air Canada gathered a few friends and offered to buy Aeroplan from its current parent company Aimia for C$250 million (US$191 million) in cash, plus assuming unredeemed Aeroplan point liabilities which Air Canada says are worth C$2 billion (US$1.54 billion.) The airline won’t provide details on the number of outstanding points or the point valuation used to get to this number.

During the 10-day offer period, it seems Aeroplan may have found a few potential alternative partners. So, the Air Canada consortium upped its offer to C$325 million in cash (US$250 million.)

With hours ticking down to Thursday night’s deadline, reports emerged about Aeroplan partnering up with the Oneworld Alliance — which includes airlines such as American Airlines, British Airways and Japan Airlines. With this report out, Aeroplan’s parent company Aimia went public with its counter-offer: C$450 million (US$347 million) in cash. It seems that was a little too high for Air Canada, so the August 2 decision deadline passed and the consortium’s C$325 million offer expired.

Hours later, the saga took another twist as Aeroplan announced a new partnership with regional Canadian airline Porter Airlines. This agreement would go into place in July 2020, just as the Air Canada – Aeroplan divorce finalizes. The airline’s existing “VIPorter loyalty program will be converted into Aeroplan Miles” when the agreement becomes effective, but VIPorter would continue to exist as an elite-benefit loyalty program.

Despite this partnership, Aimia is still open to negotiations with Air Canada. In a conference call Friday, Aimia’s new CEO Jeremy Rabe confirmed the company is open to further discussions with Air Canada:

We never stop negotiating. Should the consortium want to engage with us in a constructive dialogue, we would be happy to entertain that. At the same time, we feel very confident about our future plans. So either or, we’re happy to go down either path.

What’s next in the Air Canada-Aeroplan drama? Will Air Canada get the prize? The last two weeks have been full of twists and turns, and there seems to be no end in sight. So, grab a bag of popcorn and let’s see how this drama turns out.

Meanwhile, our advice remains: continue to use your Aeroplan miles where it makes sense to do so. The future is still very uncertain for the program — with the potential for a revenue-based program coming — so this certainly isn’t a time to hoard your Aeroplan miles.

Featured image: Aimia CEO Jeremy Rabe, from YouTube / Aimia

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