Air Transat

Is a sale of Air Transat on the horizon?

An Air Transat Airbus A321 departs Vancouver International Airport in March (photo: Brett Ballah).

Canadian leisure airline and hotel operator Transat A.T. announced Tuesday it is in talks “with more than one party” about a possible sale of the company.

It did not disclose the names of the interested buyers, but said the talks “result from expressions of interest received by the Corporation.”

Transat is one of the largest integrated tourism companies in the world, meaning it owns both resorts and the planes to get people there. The company made the announcement as shareholders gathered in Montreal for the company’s annual meeting.

“The discussions are at a preliminary stage,” said the company in a statement. “No decision has been made as to any potential transaction. There can be no assurance that any transaction will take place.”

“Will Transat leave Quebec?” wondered a shareholder.

Transat President and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Eustache told shareholders it was too early to speculate, but admitted the company had no choice but to confirm the existence of the talks when word started to leak publicly.

“Will the company leave Quebec? It’s not our intention,” he said. “I remind you it’s business as usual,” though he acknowledged the news would be disturbing for employees and shareholders alike.

Transat lost $52.6 million in the first quarter, and was voted Skytrax’s best leisure airline in the world in 2018. The airline specializes in flying principally to Europe in the summer and to sun destinations during the Canadian winter.

Transat had an “Extraordinary and disappointing” year in 2018, according to Eustache. Revenues for the year were up 6%, but the company reported a net loss of $24,5 million dollars.

Eustache said he is seeing lots of positive signs for Air Transat and its hotels, despite increased competition on flights to Europe and to sun destinations.

An Air Transat A330 was contracted by Air Canada to provide capacity on the Vancouver-Montreal route due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max (photo: Brett Ballah).

Air Transat is in the midst of transitioning to an all-Airbus fleet. It has ordered 15 Airbus A321LR aircraft, replacing ageing A310s. The A321 has the range to reach Europe for summer flights, but have a smaller capacity than the planes they’re replacing.

The company said there would be no impact on operations while talks are ongoing.

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