Air Canada Chief Expects `Very Good' Winter Bookings

Air Canada (AC/B), the country's largest carrier, expects a ``very good winter'' for sun holiday bookings if the Canadian dollar remains strong, Chief Executive Officer Montie Brewer said.

``We have seen some softness'' on inbound flights from some markets because of the Canadian currency's gains, Brewer said at an investor conference in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Air Canada (AC/A), a unit of ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. (ACE/H) is based in Montreal.

Canadians are making more trips across the U.S. border, armed with a currency that on Sept. 20 hit parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time since 1976. Overnight trips to the U.S. from Canada jumped 8.5 percent in June from a year earlier, triggered by a 17 percent gain in the value of the Canadian dollar this year.

Transat A.T. Inc. (TRZ/B), owner of Canadian charter carrier Air Transat, sees ``no slowdown nor pickup'' in fall bookings, Chief Financial Officer Francois Laurin said in a separate presentation. Most U.S. tourists to Canada ``come by car and that's not our market,'' he said.

The Canadian dollar's rise has hurt tourism, Laurin said, adding, ``we need, as a country, to do more to be attractive'' to visitors.

Jazz Air, a regional carrier and unit of ACE Aviation, expects a ``very good'' third quarter, CEO Joseph Randell said in a presentation.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia-based airline is working on developing ``strategic partnerships'' with other carriers, though discussions are at a ``preliminary stage,'' he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dave Versical at

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