Air Canada: What to Do with Aeroplan?
Having just emerged from bankruptcy protection, Air Canada faces a corporate restructuring. Many of its assets, including its frequent flyer program, Aeroplan, offer ways to raise cash to stabilize its balance sheet and return capital to its shareholders. Frequent flyer programs have been core marketing tools for airlines since their launch in the early 1980's. Aeroplan represents an important asset for Air Canada as both a strategic and a financial resource that provides rewards through its lucrative frequent flyer program and allows it to reap the financial benefits of its relationship with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Aerogold credit card. On the other hand, as Aeroplan is diversifying away from the airline and travel industry into a broader loyalty program, its resource requirements, organizational needs, and desire to control its cash flow are not necessarily aligned with those of Air Canada. Air Canada must decide how it should divest Aeroplan and what kind of relationship it should have with Aeroplan after that divestment. What corporate and business relationship would best suit all parties concerned: Air Canada and its shareholders, on the one hand, and Aeroplan and its commercial partners on the other?