After Just One Season, IMP Shuts Down CanJet Vacations

Open Jaw
by Bruce Parkinson

Stephen K. Rowe.

John Kirk

The hyper-competitive Canadian packaged vacation market has claimed another victim. After entering the market late for the 2014/2015 winter season, CanJet Airlines owner IMP Group has pulled the plug on CanJet Vacations.

“CanJet Airlines has decided today we won't participate in this market segment going forward due to the lack of profitability," CanJet Airlines President Stephen K. Rowe told Open Jaw. “Our great staff did a wonderful job in setting up in short time this revenue department of CanJet Airlines and although loads on aircraft were respectable, pricing was a disappointment and we foresee no change in the future if we continue with this effort; therefore our decision to exit."

In February, CanJet Vacations announced a summer program featuring 7 destinations in Mexico, Cuba and the D.R. The company also said it was in advanced preparations for a 2nd winter season.

At the time, V.P. Sales & Marketing John Kirk expressed optimism for the future: “We are extremely pleased with our progress so far and want to thank travel agents for all their support. We look forward to their continued support for the summer and beyond and are committed to providing a great product both in the air and in destination," Kirk said.

Less than 2 months later, CanJet Airlines had agreed to a wet-lease deal in Europe with the planes CanJet Vacations would have used for its summer program. That left the operator searching for lift, though CanJet Airlines said at the time that the winter program would continue.

Another month went by before IMP made the decision to bail out of the ITC market.

It's an open question as to whether CanJet Vacations ever really had a chance to prove itself. The company was put together on the fly and the winter brochure wasn't released until September – around the time other operators were winding up their early booking incentives.

CanJet Vacations really only started selling in October, and didn't get on major GDS systems until that date or later. Pricing was competitive with others in this notoriously low-margin business.

Despite those handicaps, agents told Open Jaw they welcomed the new entrant. Earlier reports revealed that after a slow start, loads improved, but it clearly wasn't enough to meet the privately-held IMP's margin expectations.

Rowe thanked Industry partners “such as iTravel2000 and the many others who supported us in this initiative." He said CanJet Airlines continues and “will try to carve out other initiatives moving forward within the airline industry."

That likely won't include a return to the packaged vacation business. It's an area that requires a strong stomach and deep pockets, and while IMP has the latter, it clearly was not willing to absorb early losses that future returns may not have justified.

The CanJet Vacations office will be closed and 7 staff members have been given notice. One exception is V.P. Sales & Marketing John Kirk, who played a key role in bringing CanJet Vacations to market. At this point he remains employed by IMP Group, but his future role has not been announced.

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