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Aeroplan members fear a points value nosedive after Air Canada takeover

Canada’s largest carrier said it plans to fold the more than five million Aeroplan accounts into an in-house rewards system set to launch in 2020.

Lost value is the top concern among Aeroplan members following the Air Canada-led (AC.TO) deal to acquire the loyalty program from Aimia Inc. (AIM.TO), according to a new poll.

Air Canada teamed up with TD Bank (TD.TO), CIBC (CM.TO) and Visa Canada Corp. (V.Nto pay $450 million in cash for the program, and assume approximately $1.9-billion in associated liability, in a deal announced in August.

Canada’s largest carrier said it plans to fold the more than five million Aeroplan accounts into an in-house rewards system set to launch in 2020.

The Angus Reid Institute found 59 per cent of respondents cited concerns about losing value when the Aeroplan points are converted to the new rewards framework.

“Details about what the Air Canada purchase will mean for members remain somewhat unclear,” the pollster wrote on it’s website on Monday. “Questions remain about ensuring equal value for those points.”

Among those surveyed, 49 per cent worry about maintaining the same number of points, and 42 per cent expect difficulty getting the flights they want. Thirty-nine per cent worry that they will only be able to book flights on Air Canada.

The anxiety is not expected to translate to action. Three-quarters of respondents said they are not changing their plans to cash in their rewards points. In fact, 57 per cent expect there will be little to no change after Air Canada’s program is up and running.

The agreement in principle between Aimia and the Air Canada-led consortium was the result of a dramatic series of offers and rejections between the two parties over the summer. At one point, Aimia announced a deal with Toronto-based Porter Airlines as its preferred carrier.

Despite the deal-making drama playing out in the headlines, Angus Reid found the Aeroplan saga did not grab much attention, ranking slightly ahead of Canada peacekeeping role in Mali and the net neutrality debate in terms of engagement.  

Overall dissatisfaction with the Aeroplan program emerged as a key trend in the poll, with 53 per cent of those surveyed saying they are not content, and one-in-five (18 per cent) saying they are “very dissatisfied.”

“Accumulation is apparently a source of frustration for members, as is redemption,” the pollster wrote. “Close to half of Aeroplan members say the are dissatisfied with how easy it is to do both.”

Angus Reid said it questioned a randomized sample of 1,500 Canadian adults between Sept. 4 and Sept. 7 who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The institute notes a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times
out of 20.

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