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Air Canada's recent acquisition of Air Transat doesn't worry Colin Hunter in the least but h

The acquisition of Transat does not worry Sunwing"s Chairman of the Board Colin Hunter

When he takes to the stage this weekend in Tremblant for another singing tour, Sunwing’ founder, Colin Hunter, will have peace of mind: the merger of Transat and Air Canada does not worry him in the least.

Although Transport Canada will seek advice on the combination of Transat and Air Canada, it will not receive any advice from Sunwing. "Why would I do that?" asks its founder Colin Hunter. It is the consolidation of the industry and we will see what Air Canada will do with operations that are different from its own. »

One might have thought the businessman would be a little nervous to see his three most important competitors get stronger. In addition to the combination of Air Canada and Transat, Sunwing may soon have to deal with WestJet that has been boosted by its acquisition by the conglomerate Onex.

The four players shared capacity to sun destinations almost equally last winter, with Sunwing still leading the way with 27% of the capacity. Together, Transat and Air Canada accounted for 46%.

"It's one thing to have the capacity and it's another to have products that everyone wants to buy," Hunter says. And we think we have a superior product. »

His concern is all the less acute for the coming year.

"I assume there will be a slight reduction in capacity, but I don't think it will happen in the next year, given the aircraft leases, maintenance and all the other things you have to consider when you're in this industry. »

Sunwing has never been tempted to acquire Transat itself, he swears.

There has never been any interest on our part in Transat. Jean-Marc[Eustache, President of Transat] had been trying for a few years to get us to work together and we were never interested. Their model is different from ours.

Colin Hunter, Chairman and Founder of Sunwing

"[Transat] has long-haul aircraft, we don't have any. And we have no intention of embarking on transatlantic travel. If that changes, it will be much later, it's not on our horizon right now," Hunter explains.

Interest was also absent at TUI, a German giant that owns 49% of Sunwing, Hunter said.

"It was just speculation. I know they didn't make any approach. »

American competition

This does not mean that Mr. Hunter is not afraid of any competition. In the longer term, it is the one from American carriers that concerns him.

"Canada seems determined to open the door to American carriers without reciprocity," he says. It's coming quietly. The United States is a major trading partner and I am sure they are trying to get more and more rights for their carriers. »

Fortunately, he argues, Sunwing is not just an air carrier. The vertically integrated company also has nearly 17,000 hotel rooms, mainly in the Caribbean.

No 737 MAX this winter

Sunwing also announced a few days ago that it was abandoning the use of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for the entire upcoming winter season. These aircraft have been banned from flying since they led to two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

"I'm done worrying about that. It is clear that the industry, led by Airbus, is trying to keep the MAX out of service as long as possible, Hunter says. As far as I'm concerned, we won't see them back home until the end of April at the earliest," Hunter says.

We cannot afford to sit around for weeks waiting for the MAX to get back up and running on short notice. It is easier for us to take it out of our grid completely than to depend on its return.

Colin Hunter, Chairman and Founder of Sunwing

The company was leasing four of these aircraft at the time they were banned from flying. In the longer term, she is not worried about travellers fearing them.

"I think after a few flights, everyone will be comfortable. In fact, I don't even think these accidents would have happened in Canada or the United States, because Canadian and American pilots are much better trained. »

Sunwing in brief

Revenues of more than $3 billion

17,000 hotel rooms owned or managed (in Cuba, they are managed on behalf of the government)

Soon a new four-storey Quebec office in Laval

5 airports served in Quebec: Montreal-Trudeau, Quebec City, Bagotville, Val-d'Or and Mont-Joli

17,000 employees, including 820 in Quebec

42 aircrafts last winter, including about fifteen rented directly by it, the others being exchanged with partners, in particular its shareholder TUI. Eleven of them were based in Quebec.

Ottawa announces consultations

Air Canada's takeover of Air Transat A.T. will be subject to a "public interest" assessment, confirmed Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and the statutory deadline for such consultation has been extended. In a press release issued late yesterday, the Minister argued that the transaction raises "public interest issues in national transportation". The analysis of the file will be done in collaboration with the Commissioner of Competition, it is specified. At the time of the announcement of the cartel, some observers expressed concerns, including a possible increase in the cost of air tickets to European destinations. According to information provided by Transport Canada, consultations will be conducted with the air transport industry, representatives of various levels of government and the public, among others. This work is expected to begin on November 4. According to the press release, Minister Garneau used his discretion to extend the statutory deadline for conducting such a public interest assessment. Instead of the 150 regulatory days, Transport Canada and the Commissioner of Competition will have 250 days to do their work. The final report should therefore be submitted to the Minister by May 2, 2020. - The Canadian Press

The President in concert

Sunwing's founder and chairman of the board, Colin Hunter, will be in Tremblant this weekend, and it will not be to study the possibility of landing his planes at La Macaza Airport.

Mr. Hunter also has a "evening job", such as a crooner. The one we have already seen in Montreal regularly, notably as part of the Jazz Festival, will give two shows this weekend at the Fête de la musique de Tremblant, at the invitation of Angèle Dubeau.

This second profession is more than a little passion for the man who arrived in Canada in 1970. He estimates that he gives 60 to 80 concerts per year. "Every weekend? ", he is asked.

"That's what my wife would tell you, yes," he replied.

Like many others, Mr. Hunter enjoyed singing as a teenager, before taking a break from his vocation when he entered the workforce. It was its Executive Vice-President and strong man in Quebec, Sam Char, who unintentionally relaunched this second career at an event held for travel agents some 15 years ago.

"There was a big band and I saw Colin singing and tapping his foot next to me, he knew all the songs. I told him to go on stage, he didn't want to. I made arrangements with the group leader, who was a friend. He tried. »

[The group leader] asked me to do two songs. The next time, it was half a dozen. And it has grown.

Colin Hunter, Chairman and Founder of Sunwing

Double the work

The man now delivers about thirty songs in his shows, and is enjoying some success, especially because the people who come to see him know his double job, he admits.

However, he will not be heard delivering his own compositions, he warns.

"I don't have time for this. I like old crooner songs, it's my niche. So many good songs have already been written, and too many artists today don't know how to write them. »

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