|Jazz Air LP signed an agreement with Thomas Cook Canada Inc. Monday that will see the regional affiliate of Air Canada begin flying a fleet six 757-200 aircraft to sunny locales next winter.
The agreement with Thomas Cook is the first major relationship for Jazz outside of its capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada, which currently accounts for roughly 99% of its sales.
While the terms of the agreement are confidential, Jazz said the new partnership would add about $100-million in additional revenue. Jazz revenue was at roughly $1.4-billion in 2009.
"Growing and diversifying our business remains a top corporate priority; our agreement with Thomas Cook is a strong start that delivers value to all of our stakeholders," said Joseph Randell, Jazz chief executive in a statement. "We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the world's largest leisure travel groups, and it's our employees who have brought us to this important milestone. Our demonstrated ability to operate safely, reliably and with excellent customer service at competitive rates is the reason why we are able to grow and diversify our business. All our employees are to be commended for their 'can do' attitude and professionalism."
The 757-200, which can accommodate up to 228 passengers, would also be a significantly larger aircraft than the regional jets and turboprops Jazz currently operates.
Thomas Cook Canada, a division of Thomas Cook Group Plc, said it would be using the aircraft to serve destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America next winter, and the contract comes with an option to extend by up to five years. The new relationship also follows the folding of Thomas Cook’s former partner, Skyservice Airlines Inc., last week.
Skyservice had operated aircraft on behalf of Thomas Cook’s Sunquest Vacations product for 15 years before the charter airline unexpectedly folded last week.
WestJet Airlines Ltd. is expected to provide summer service for Sunquest Vacations, but it now appears Jazz will take at least some of its winter schedule as well.
"We're extremely proud to be partnering with Jazz to offer our passengers high-quality in-flight services as part of the full Sunquest vacation experience," said Michael Friisdahl, Thomas Cook North America chief executive said. "Through the combined operational and financial strength of Thomas Cook and Jazz, we will offer Sunquest customers innovative and dependable vacation packages."
Jazz has been actively looking at ways to diversify its business since it was spun off of Air Canada in 2004 under ACE Aviation Holdings Inc. While that has remained a priority, the company has had difficulties finding an appropriate partner.
Recently, Jazz had said it was also in talks with Robbie Golberg about the possibility of partnering with him as well on his latest package tour venture, Direct Save Holidays, which Mr. Goldberg still intends to launch in June with flights starting in November as well.
Last February, Jazz also announced its plans to acquire a fleet of 15 Bombardier Q400 turboprops, which it hopes will open up many short-haul routes to it, including the possibility of using the planes as part of Air Canada plans to return to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island.
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