In the high-stakes world of Canadian commercial aviation, competition has hit a fever pitch. As Open Jaw revealed earlier this week, Porter Airlines is aspiring to challenge Canada's biggest loyalty program with an offer to match Air Canada customers' Aeroplan status in its own VIPorter program.
Always eager to capture the inside story, Open Jaw asked top execs at both airlines about customer loyalty, and here’s what they told us.
Mark Nasr, Air Canada's executive vice president of marketing and digital, is having none of it. Nasr doesn't feel Porter's shot across AC's bow is an issue, quipping:
"We're confident frequent travellers understand the Porter loyalty proposition:
- No lounges
- No business class or upgrades
- No alliance membership
- No partner redemptions
- No points family sharing
- No meaningful partnerships—on the ground or in the air
- Small regional planes on every single flight
- About 97% less redemption destination choices
Nasr added: "Aeroplan remains focused on providing Canadian travellers with the very best travel Loyalty program—not just nationally, but in the world… and there's still a lot more to come."
With respect to the unprecedented move to take aim at a competitor’s loyalty program, Kevin Jackson, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Porter Airlines, told Open Jaw:
"What's unique in our approach is we are matching on status and on segments. There are many frequent economy travellers that don't get their full status because they don't buy the expensive fares the carriers want you to buy.
"As our network continues to grow, Canadians have a real choice about who to give their loyalty to. Frequent economy travellers that are feeling undervalued by carriers and other airline loyalty programs can come to Porter knowing that every traveller is valued and they will experience a level of service and appreciation that is unmatched in the industry."
There is no question this move signals a new, more aggressive, Porter than the rascally raccoon we have come to know. However, in Canada, Aeroplan still controls a majority of FF decision making. We have fastened our seatbelts for the next chapter.