Aimia shares surge after it announces Aeroplan to offer charter flights by

MONTREAL — Shares of Aeroplan’s parent company surged nearly nine per cent Friday after it unveiled details on changes to the loyalty program once its exclusive partnership with Air Canada ends in 2020.Aimia Inc. shares rose 20 cents or 8.7 per cent at $2.50 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Disgruntled shareholders caused the Montreal-based company’s shares to plummet 62 per cent after Air Canada announced in May 2017 that it was not renewing its 30-year partnership with Aeroplan and was launching its own loyalty program in two years.Aimia says it plans to offer charter flights to its most popular destinations as it expands the program to broader travel rewards, including hotels, cars and entertainment.Aeroplan’s five million members will be able to buy seats on any airline, any time, to any destination instead of being limited to Canada’s largest airline and its Star Alliance partners.Starting in September, Aeroplan will introduce a new online travel booking tool that will initially enable members to earn miles when they rent a car or book a hotel using cash.Aeroplan plans to offer redemptions starting at the same mileage levels for about 95 per cent of its flight redemptions.It is also introducing a points transfer program in 2020 that will allow members to convert Aeroplan Miles to the loyalty programs of nearly 20 airlines covering several alliances, giving them wider access to flights and hotels.Industry analysts say the changes are positive but noted it is still early to gauge their impact on the company’s future. Drew McReynolds of RBC Capital Markets called the details “directionally positive” but says it’s hard to accurately forecast if the new Aeroplan program will resonate with members in an increasingly crowded loyalty sector.Aimia is on the right track and investors should be more positive on the company’s future viability, Neil Linsdell of Industrial Alliance Securities wrote in a report.


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