Canadian leisure carrier Air Transat, in the midst of a buyout by Air Canada, has released its first winter schedule incorporating a growing fleet of Airbus A321 long-range aircraft.
The A321s are slowly replacing older and larger aircraft, such as the Airbus A310, on routes as far as South America and, eventually, Europe.
The package vacation company is increasing its focus on Florida this winter, particularly flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale from several Canadian gateways.
Transat’s largest operation is centred out of its home base in Montreal with 42 destinations, followed by Toronto, which has Air Transat service to 36 destinations in the South and in Europe.
MAP BELOW: The map shows Air Transat routes for the 2019 – 2020 winter season.
Transat is the third largest airline in Canada, carrying some five million passengers a year. It is increasing its presence in Vancouver this winter, offering new flights to Florida, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic from the West Coast.
In all, Transat will offer air service from 12 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax, with the greatest number of departures leaving from Southern Ontario and Quebec.
Transat has lost money in each of the last two years, as a combination of hotel investments, higher fuel prices, and stiff competition have eaten into the bottom line.
Air Canada has made a friendly $520 million takeover bid for Transat which has been accepted by the company’s board, but which still has to clear several hurdles before it can become a reality, not least of all is shareholder approval.
A rival bid from the Mach Group was dropped Wednesday, with the Group saying it would not sweeten the pot to buy the company.
The proposed merger got a boost from a number of influential Montreal business groups Thursday, despite fears a unified company would lead to greatly reduced competition, particularly on key routes to Europe.
“Over the last five years, the number of passengers at Montreal-Trudeau has increased by nearly 40% and with this combination of two home-grown champions, we expect that growth to even accelerate to reinforce the position of Montreal as a world class hub,” said Phillippe Rainville, President, Aéroports de Montréal.
“The Air Canada acquisition of Transat would strengthen one of Montreal’s flagship companies, which has to navigate an extremely competitive global landscape. The commitment to maintaining decision-making power regarding Transat’s activities in Montreal also bodes well for job creation in the city. This is good news for our economy,” said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.
If the deal clears all of the hurdles that lie ahead, it would leave Air Canada with almost two-thirds of the trans-Atlantic market, with Westjet and its partners holding much of the rest.
The Transat fleet would fit well into Air Canada’s plans. Both airlines already fly the A321, and the increased range of Transat’s new A321LR would give Air Canada a viable alternative and complement to the Boeing 737 Max on longer flights that aren’t busy enough to fill wide-body aircraft.