Air Canada to acquire Aeroplan from Aimia

The airline reaches an agreement to acquire the loyalty program after nearly doubling its first bid.

A consortium of companies led by Air Canada has reached an agreement to buy the Aeroplan loyalty program from Aimia after sweetening a previously rejected bid.

Air Canada – along with partners TD, CIBC and Visa – will buy the loyalty program for $450 million in cash and the assumption of liability for unredeemed Aeroplan miles, worth approximately $1.9 billion. In announcing the agreement, Air Canada re-stated its plans to use Aeroplan (and its existing members) as the foundation for a new loyalty program that the airline plans to launch in 2020. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, as well as other closing conditions. It is expected to close in the fall.

The Aeroplan program was created by Air Canada in the 1980s before being spun out into its own company following an IPO in 2005. Last May, Air Canada announced that it would not be renewing its current contract with Aeroplan when it expires in 2020, in favour of creating its own loyalty program.

Air Canada first revealed a hostile bid to acquire Aeroplan last month, offering $250 million in cash and the assumption of liability for all outstanding points, which was pegged at the time as being worth roughly $2 billion. Aimia rejected the bid and subsequently announced a number of partnerships with other airlines – including Porter, Transat and Edmonton-based low-cost carrier Flair Airlines – to begin in 2020.

It is unknown what will become of those new agreements, as well as if Air Canada plans to maintain relationships with retailers that allow members to earn points as part of its new program.

Without Aeroplan, Aimia’s business will consist of offering technology, design and business intelligence solutions for clients’ own loyalty programs, as well as coalition loyalty programs operating in other markets that it has a stake in. That includes Air Miles Middle East and BIG, AirAsia and Tune Group’s loyalty program. It also has a 48.9% stake in PLM, a joint venture with Grupo Aeromexico that operates the Club Premier loyalty program. Shortly after Air Canada made its first bid for Aeroplan, Grupo Aeromexico also put forward a bid to acquire Aimia’s stake in PLM, which the company also rejected.