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Fifteen years after Air Canada sold off its Aeroplan frequent flyer scheme, the airline is gearing up to bring the program back under its own wing.
The rewards scheme would launch in 2020 with a new name, although "all Aeroplan miles would transfer into the new Air Canada loyalty program in 2020,” wrote Ben Smith, who heads the Star Alliance member's passenger airline unit, in a message to customers. Air Canada polled more than 30,000 customers about the new rewards plan, he said.
Air Canada is teaming up with Visa and two Canadian banks on a C$250 million cash offer for Aeroplan, which is currently owned by Aimia'.
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.
Aimia said in a statement it will consider the proposal, which came after private talks between the Montreal-based company and its potential buyers. Aimia’s board formed a special committee "some time ago" and had engaged legal and financial advisers in connections with the talks.
The 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.
Air Canada’s bidding group, which also includes Toronto-Dominion Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as well as Visa’s Canada unit, said in a statement it would also assume the liability of about C$2 billion in Aeroplan points.