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Airline Insider-May/June 05

Halifax International wins top honours, Air Canada goes shopping, Come try with me again


October 1, 2007
By Brian Dunn

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240-insider
COME TRY WITH ME AGAIN

Come fly with
me, let’s fly, let’s fly away. Or should that be ‘Come try with me,
come try with me again’ when referring to Michel Leblanc’s attempt to
relaunch Jetsgo, albeit on a much smaller scale.

The aviation
entrepreneur is hoping to relaunch Jetsgo by the end of June, his fifth
attempt to keep an airline solvent for any length of time. The jury was
still out at press time as to whether a revived Jetsgo would fly.

A
key to rescuing the carrier will be persuading the lessors to stick
with Jetsgo, rather than finding another airline to pick up the MD-83
leases. Leblanc hopes to persuade creditors and consumers to give him
another chance, and he expects to sell off the 15 Fokker 100s and
liquidate other assets under the supervision of court-appointed monitor
RSM Richter Inc.

“He’s an aviation entrepreneur. He has aviation
fuel in his blood,” said Karl Moore, professor of management at McGill
University. “If the airline comes back as Jetsgo with Michel Leblanc as
the head of it, it may not work, given all the bad blood. But there is
as market out there for a charter operation. His problem will be the
brand and cash flow.”

Jetsgo faces a credibility problem that
will be hard to overcome, according to a Toronto-based analyst who
requested anonymity. The analyst also wondered who would lend Leblanc
money or what lessors would allow Jetsgo to fly their aircraft given
the airline’s questionable service and maintenance record prior to
bankruptcy.

“This is the third time he’s done this. Who is going
to trust him again? And you have to question how much goodwill there is
left among his former employees. But he’s like a cat, he always lands
on his feet.”

As for the possibility of launching a charter
operation – for which the MD- 83s are better suited than for some of
the routes Jetsgo flew – the analyst pointed out that Leblanc already
tried that with Royal Aviation, which merged into Canada 3000 which
also went out of business.

AIR CANADA GOES SHOPPING
Air
Canada is studying the possibility of a major expansion of its
ultra-longhaul widebody fleet. It’s also poised to decide whether the
Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 will replace its aging 767 fleet.

The
airline operates two A340-500s on the Toronto-Hong Kong route and is
looking to launch several more routes requiring the range capability of
the 500 or rival 777-200LR. Services under consideration include
Vancouver to Sydney and other points in Southeast Asia, possibly
Bangkok and Singapore, as well as Toronto to Mumbai and Shanghai.

Air
Canada has not specified how many aircraft it is considering, but up to
eight could be needed, including replacement of the leased A340-500s.

The
airline’s aircraft maintenance and repair unit has received a US$300-
million contract to overhaul more than 200 aircraft from Delta Air
Lines over five years. The work began in May in Vancouver and should
result in the recall of laid-off employees or cancellation of layoff
notices of others, or about 300 workers in all, according to Air
Canada. Delta said the deal to maintain and repair its fleet of 208
Boeing 757s and 767s is “one of the industry’s largest outsourcing
contracts” that will save it US$240 million over five years and reduce
its costs by 34%. The airline lost a record US$5.2 billion last year.

HALIFAX INTERNATIONAL WINS TOP HONOURS
Halifax
International Airport was voted the best in the Americas in a survey by
Airports Council International and the International Air Transport
Association, which interviewed 65,000 travellers at 40 airports
worldwide. Minneapolis/St. Paul and San Diego ranked second and third
in the Americas.

The survey was based on 31 servicerelated
criteria covering the entire airport experience for both domestic and
international travellers.

Halifax also ranked first in overall
passenger satisfaction for airports worldwide handling less than five
million passengers annually, for the second year in a row, as well as
best domestic airport worldwide.

Hong Kong was named the world’s best airport, followed by Seoul’s Incheon and Singapore’s Changi airports.


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