Air Canada Unveils Back-to-the-Future Bid for Loyalty Plan

29 July 2018Finance

Scott Deveau and Frederic Tomesco, reporting for Bloomberg:

The airline is teaming up with Visa Inc. and two Canadian banks on a C$250 million ($190 million) cash offer for Aimia Inc.’s Aeroplan rewards program. If accepted — and Aimia surged the most on record on the news — the deal would return the loyalty plan to Air Canada, which spun it off in 2005.

[…]

The surprise bid marks a shift in strategy for Canada’s biggest airline, which had announced plans last year to cut ties with Aeroplan and begin its own rewards program in 2020. Taking control of Aimia’s system would enable Aeroplan members to transfer their points to Air Canada’s program, eliminating the risk for the carrier that frequent flyers would stick with the old plan over the new one.

This deal stinks. If you are Air Canada, why not negotiate with Aimia in good faith for the Aeroplan program assets before publicly announcing that you are cutting ties in 2020 and starting your own loyalty program? That announcement can now only be viewed as a tactic to lower the value of Aeroplpan, making it an easier acquisition target. Sure, that probably seems like a great move on paper, but as a potential customer or investor, it comes off as cut-throat and downright unethical.