Air Transat

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Air Transat
Air Transat logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedDecember 1986
Commenced operationsNovember 14, 1987
AOC #Canada: 5311[2]
United States: ATFF123F[3]
Focus cities
Fleet size37[4][5]
Parent companyTransat A.T.
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Key people
RevenueIncrease CAN$2.9 billion (2019)[7]
Net incomeIncrease (CAN$9.4) million (2019)[7]
Total assetsIncrease CAN$1.5 billion (2015)
Employees5,100 (2020 pre-CoViD-19) 1,700 (current)

Air Transat is a Canadian airline based in Montreal, Quebec. Founded in 1986, it is the country's third-largest airline, operating scheduled and charter flights, serving 60 destinations in 25 countries.[8][9][10] Air Transat is owned and operated by Transat A.T. Inc., having access to a fleet of 37 aircraft.[4]


Early Years (1986-1999)[edit]

Air Transat's headquarters, located in Montreal
An Air Transat Airbus A310-300 at Manchester Airport in 2001

François Legault founded Air Transat with other business partners such as Jean-Marc Eustache, Philippe Sureau, Lina de Cesare, Yvon Lecavalier, and Pierre Ménard. Legault left the company in 1997 with no forewarning after a dispute with business partners, who only found out after the fact.[11][12]

Air Transat made its inaugural flight on November 14, 1987, travelling from Montreal to Acapulco. Six years later, Air Transat assumed defunct Nationair's maintenance base and aircraft. Today,[when?] the company books over 3.5 million passengers a year. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transat A.T. Inc.

Expansion (2000-2018)[edit]

On February 13, 2009, Transat A.T. announced a five-year partnership with CanJet. Since 1 May 2009, Transat Tours Canada has chartered CanJet's Boeing 737 aircraft flying from Canadian cities to various destinations. This replaced an agreement with Calgary-based Westjet.[13]

On February 13, 2011, Air Transat Flight TS163 operated with their first all-female flight crew from Cancun to Vancouver. The airline has won many awards, including the 2012, 2018 and 2019 Skytrax World's Best Leisure Airline Awards.[14]

On September 13, 2013, Air Transat struck a seasonal lease deal with Air France-KLM leisure carrier Transavia France, covering the lease of up to nine Boeing 737-800s by 2019. The deal, which extends a 2010 winter capacity agreement, calls for Transavia France to lease four 737-800s to Air Transat during winter 2014, five in 2016, six in 2017, seven in 2018 and eight in 2019.[15]

Although the first two groups of refugees from Syria arrived in Canada on government aircraft in December 2015, the next two groups were on Air Transat aircraft; the first was Flight TS8500 from Amman, Jordan to Toronto which departed on 20 December. While it was unlikely that Air Transat would be the exclusive airline chartered by the Canadian government, especially if more than 35,000 refugees would arrive in 2016[16] a spokesman advised the Toronto Star that the company had been confirmed as the airline that would bring the second group to Canada on 21 December.[17] In a Transat press release, Jean-François Lemay, the carrier's general manager made the following statement, "We are very pleased to be the first Canadian airline company to engage in this major humanitarian effort, and to be assisting the Canadian government and international authorities in this way."[18]

In May 2017, Air Transat and Flair Air were accused by a CBC News story of misleading customers and regulators in both Canada and Mexico by marketing and selling nonstop tickets between Edmonton and Cancun. CBC uncovered a letter in which the airlines admitted that they would frequently divert for a technical stop to refuel.[19]

Recent developments (2019-present)[edit]

In January 2020, Forbes Canada named Air Transat in its list of Best Employers, to 8th place nationally.[20]

Proposed acquisition by Air Canada[edit]

On 16 May 2019, Transat AT, the company that owns Air Transat, announced it was in exclusive talks to be purchased by Air Canada. An offer was subsequently made by the latter at C$13 per share and another company, Group Mach, proposed purchase at C$14.

On 27 June 2019, the Board of Transat AT accepted Air Canada's all-cash bid of C$520 million and did not comment on the C$527.6 proposal from Group Mach because the talks with Air Canada were still exclusive. The deal required approval by two-thirds of shareholders; some major investors and some financial analysts stated that the offer is below the true value of the company. Regulatory and governmental approval would be required for sale of Transat AT. A May report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation stated that "regulatory approvals are no sure thing".[21] It was announced that, if the Air Canada purchase was successful, Air Transat would continue to operate as a separate brand.[22][23][24]

By 12 August 2019, Air Canada had increased its offer by nearly 40% to C$18 per share from C$13, valuing the acquisition at C$720 million ($544 million in American Dollars), in order to obtain backing from Letko Brosseau, Transat AT's largest shareholder with 19% of the company.[25] That same day, the Quebec Administrative Court of Financial Markets rejected the rival bid from Groupe Mach; on 23 August, a 95% majority of Transat's voting shareholders approved the C$18 per share Air Canada proposal.[26] The proposed transaction was to be publicly assessed by Transport Canada until 2 May 2020, with the buyout to close after that date.[27]

The buyout was delayed by the then ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation, with the share price of Transat AT falling to C$5.16 by July 2020.[28] The buyout had not closed by 13 October 2020, at which time the two parties agreed to a revised offer of C$5 per share, reducing the total value of the acquisition to C$180 million.[29]

On 2 April 2021, the deal was dropped following a failure to secure European Commission approval.[30]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On July 23, 2020, Air Transat announced that it would resume its service following a COVID-19 pandemic-induced interruption of 112 days.[28] In January 2021, as the pandemic continued, Air Transat announced it was again suspending its regular operations from January 29 to April 30, 2021 and all operations from February 14 to April 30, 2021.[31]

British consumer site MoneySavingExpert named Air Transat as one of the worst performing travel firms for refunding passengers whose flights or trips were cancelled. The United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in a report examining the impact of COVID-19 on airline carriers' treatment of passengers to and from the UK during the pandemic, found that Air Transat was one of the airlines failing to provide cash refunds to passengers whose flights had been cancelled by the airline, in breach of the Flight Compensation Regulation.[32] The regulation requires airlines to refund passengers whose flights are cancelled under any circumstances, including the COVID-19 pandemic; the report also noted that CAA's inquiries, while preparing the report, had resulted in Air Transat assuring it that all cash payments would henceforth be handled properly.[32]


Air Transat specializes in charter flights from 19 Canadian cities to vacation destinations, mainly to 15 countries in the south during winter and in 11 European countries during summer. Also, some destinations are provided all year round by the airline. During the summer season, its main destinations are Europe and in the winter season, the Caribbean, Mexico, the United States and Central America, though the airline operates many year-round flights to Europe from their Toronto and Montreal bases. Its main Canadian gateways are Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport.[33] The airline also has operations at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport, Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport among others.


An Air Transat Airbus A330-300 in 2019, showing the current livery
A 2013 image of an Air Transat Airbus A310-300, showing a previous livery
An Air Transat Lockheed L-1011 in the 1995 livery

Current fleet[edit]

As of August 15, 2021, Air Transat has the following 37 aircraft registered with Transport Canada but some are not listed on the Air Transat website:[4][5]

Air Transat fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A310-300 3 12 238 250[34] Not listed at the Air Transat website. Although the aircraft have been retired they are still registered to Air Transat and form part of the fleet.[35]
Airbus A321-200 7 190 190[36][37]
Airbus A321LR 10 7 12 187 199[38][39] Deliveries since 2019.[40][41] Listed at Air Transat as Airbus A321neoLR[42]
Airbus A330-200 15 12 333 345[43]
12 320 332
Airbus A330-300 1 12 334 346
Boeing 737-800 1 10 179 189[44] Club Class only available on domestic flights, not listed at Air Transat website
Total 37 7

Previously operated[edit]

Air Transat has operated several other aircraft types in the past including the following:[45]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On July 6, 2001, Air Transat Flight 906, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, made a return to Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport after encountering severe hail. The plane returned safely but was written off. It is still used today for emergency training.[46]
  • On August 24, 2001, Air Transat Flight 236, an Airbus A330-200, en route from Toronto to Lisbon with 306 crew and passengers, piloted by Captain Robert Piche and First Officer Dirk de Jager, made an emergency landing in the Azores without engine power due to fuel starvation over the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft safely landed at Lajes Air Base, on Terceira Island. The aircraft was evacuated in 90 seconds. All 306 passengers on board survived. An investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was a fuel leak in the number two engine which was caused by an incorrect part installed in the hydraulics system by Air Transat maintenance staff. The part did not maintain adequate clearance between the hydraulic lines and the fuel line, allowing vibration in the hydraulic lines to degrade the fuel line and cause the leak. The aircraft involved in the incident was repaired and remained in service with Air Transat until March of 2020. The incident went down in history as the longest non-powered flight and landing by a commercial airliner.[47]
  • On March 6, 2005, Air Transat Flight 961 experienced a structural failure in which the rudder detached in flight. The flight crew were able to regain enough control of the aircraft to return safely to Varadero. As of March 2020, the Airbus A310-308 is no longer in service.[48][49] The investigation that followed determined that the manufacturer's inspection procedure for the composite rudder was not adequate.[50] Inspection procedures for composite structures on airliners were changed because of this accident.
  • On July 18, 2016, Air Transat Flight 725, an Airbus A310-300, en route from Glasgow to Toronto with 250 passengers was grounded overnight following the arrest of pilots Captain Jean-François Perreault and Imran Zafar Syed for allegedly preparing to fly under the influence of alcohol. The flight eventually flew under new crew and arrived in Toronto at noon the following day.[51] Both pilots were cleared of all charges in April 2018.[52]
  • On July 31, 2017, Air Transat Flight 157, an Airbus A330-200, en route from Brussels to Montréal-Trudeau was diverted to Ottawa due to a chain of storms passing through the Montreal area. More than 300 passengers were kept on the plane without water, electricity, or air conditioning and rationed food for 6 hours. A passenger called 911 due to the deteriorating situation with some passengers complaining of suffocation. Airport authorities responded by delivering water and disembarking passengers including those complaining of suffocation injuries. Air Transat blamed congestion at Ottawa's airport for the situation, where airport administration stated that the pilots asked for no help during the six-hour situation.[53] The event enraged Canadian lawmakers pushing to improve Canada's passenger bill of rights.[54]


  1. ^ "FAA JO 7340.2H - Contractions". Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  2. ^ Transport Canada (2019-08-30), Civil Aviation Services (CAS) AOC.
  3. ^ "Federal Aviation Administration - Airline Certificate Information - Detail View". Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  4. ^ a b c d "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Quick Search Result for Air Transat". Transport Canada. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  5. ^ a b "Our fleet". Air Transat.
  6. ^ "Air Transat | Destinations from Canada". Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Vowles, Timothy M.; Lück, Michael (2016). "Low Cost Carriers in the USA and Canada". In Gross, Sven; Lück, Michael (eds.). The Low Cost Carrier Worldwide. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781317025054.
  9. ^ "Contact Us." Air Transat. Retrieved on May 20, 2009. "Postal address: Air Transat 5959 Côte-Vertu Blvd. Montreal, Quebec H4S 2E6 Canada"
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Quebec election: François Legault is a pragmatist at heart". 22 September 2018.
  12. ^ "The Quebec Election: A Primer  – Policy Magazine".
  13. ^ "Transat A.T. Inc. - Transat and CanJet forge 5-year partnership for narrow-body aircraft". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Air Transat Named World's Best Leisure Airline in 2012". Air Transat. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Transavia France inks 737-800 deal with Air Transat". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  16. ^ The Associated Press (21 December 2015). "Canada aims to double intake of Syrian refugees to 50,000: McCallum". Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  17. ^ Westoll, Nick (20 December 2015). "Canada may double refugee intake by end of 2016: McCallum". Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Flight TS8500 has now left Amman for Toronto". Transat. Transat A.T. 20 December 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  19. ^ "The 'Mexican game': How Air Transat misled passengers and aviation officials". CBC News. 31 May 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Air Canada in exclusive talks to buy Air Transat". CBC News. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019. The exclusivity agreement also states that if Transat walks away from the deal for a better offer, it would pay Air Canada a $15-million break fee. In the event the agreement is terminated because regulatory or governmental approvals are not obtained, Air Canada would pay Transat a $40-million break fee.
  22. ^ "Air Canada to buy Transat in deal valued at $520M". CTV News. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019. Letko, Brosseau and Associates and PenderFund Capital Management, which jointly own a 22.06 per cent stake, have said they would vote against the agreement if the purchase price remained at $13 per share.
  23. ^ "Transat agrees to Air Canada's $13-a-share takeover offer, despite other bids". CBC News. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 29 June 2019. Shareholders will have to weigh in and regulatory agencies will have a say, as the move would consolidate Canada's airline industry in even fewer hands.
  24. ^ "Transat accepts Air Canada's $520-million buyout offer". Financial Post. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019. The deal, which would keep Transat’s head office and key functions in Montreal, is expected to be completed early next year, subject to regulatory approval.
  25. ^ David Kaminski-Morrow (12 Aug 2019). "Air Canada substantially hikes price for Air Transat". Flightglobal.
  26. ^ Tom Risen (23 Aug 2019). "Transat shareholders approve Air Canada buyout". Flightglobal.
  27. ^ Ellis Taylor (27 Aug 2019). "Air Canada Transat takeover unlikely to close in early 2020". Flightglobal.
  28. ^ a b Codère, Jean-François (2020-07-23). "Transat renaît… modestement" [Transat is reborn... modestly]. La Presse (in French). Retrieved 2021-08-15.
  29. ^ Evans, Pete (2020-10-13). "Air Canada agrees to still take over Air Transat, but for much lower price". CBC News. Retrieved 2021-08-15.
  30. ^ "Air Canada Drops Transat Takeover After Battle With Europe". 2021-04-02. Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  31. ^ "Coronavirus (COVID-19)".
  32. ^ a b CAA review into airline refund practices during the Covid-19 pandemic (PDF) (Report). UK Civil Aviation Authority. July 2020. p. 1, 5-6.
  33. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-03-27. p. 67.
  34. ^ Airbus A310-300
  35. ^ a b Air Transt Retires Last A310, Suspends Operatios
  36. ^ Airbus A321-200
  37. ^ "Canada's Air Transat adds six A321s, ends B737-700 ops". Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  38. ^ "Canada's Air Transat to debut A321neo(LR) ops in 2Q19". Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  39. ^ Airbus A321neoLR
  40. ^ "Air Transat to take A321LRs to replace A310s". 11 July 2017.
  41. ^ "Air Transat signs agreement to lease seven new Airbus A321neos". 27 June 2018.
  42. ^ Airbus A321neoLR
  43. ^ "Airbus A330-200". Air Transat. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  44. ^ Boeing 737-800
  45. ^ Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: History Search Result
  46. ^
  47. ^ A330 'glider' drama facts revealed. Flight International, 26 Oct 2004. Retrieved 5 Jan 2007.
  48. ^ "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: Aircraft History Details". Transport Canada. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  49. ^ "Flight Activity History (C-GPAT)". 2017-01-17. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  50. ^ "Aviation Investigation Report A05F0047, Loss of Rudder in Flight, Air Transat Airbus A310-308 C-GPAT, Miami, Florida, 90 nm S, 06 March 2005" (PDF). Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  51. ^ Lupton, Andrew; Nazareth, Errol (2016-07-19). "2 Air Transat pilots charged with being impaired before Glasgow to Toronto flight". Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  52. ^ "'Alcohol' pilots cleared after evidence blunder". BBC News. 2018-04-26. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  53. ^ "'You can't do this to us': Fuming passengers stuck on planes in Ottawa call 911". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-02.
  54. ^ "After Air Transat saga, passenger bill of rights aims to punish airlines into being good". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-02.

External links[edit]

Media related to Air Transat at Wikimedia Commons