Air Canada close on Continental deal

Air Canada has reached a partnership agreement in principle with Continental Airlines.The two airlines intend, subject to obtaining regulatory approvals, to offer customers coordinated services and enhanced product offerings through codeshare, frequent flyer and lounge access agreements.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Air Canada and Continental Airlines to develop a deeper relationship that will be of great benefit to our customers,” said Ben Smith, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. “Through cooperation with Continental, including a proposed codesharing arrangement, we will be able to offer customers traveling to the United States a vast array of enhanced travel benefits including more choice of destinations, new routings, expanded frequent flyer benefits and lounge access for eligible customers. At the same time, we will be able to realize greater efficiencies so we can compete more effectively. It is one of the many innovative ways we are responding to the high cost of fuel, by working with alliance partners for the benefit of our customers.”

Through Continental’s hubs in Newark and Cleveland, Air Canada will offer more options to the eastern United States, and through Continental’s Houston hub, greater access to the southern United States, Mexico and Central America. Air Canada’s proposed alliance with Continental will give customers an expanded network that complements Air Canada’s existing North American network with its Star Alliance partner, United Airlines. In June, Continental announced that it also plans to join Star Alliance.

In addition, Air Canada has also signed a multi-lateral framework agreement with Continental, United Airlines, and Lufthansa to create a transatlantic joint venture through which the carriers intend to provide customers with more choice and streamlined service to Africa, India, Europe and the Middle East. As a first step, nine Star Alliance carriers, including Air Canada, have filed a joint application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to add Continental Airlines to their existing antitrust immunity.