MONTREAL — Aimia Inc. has signed Aeroplan partnership agreements with two more Canadian airlines that will take effect in about two years, after its current agreement with Air Canada ends in 2020.One of Aimia’s new partners is Air Transat, a long-established airline owned by Montreal-based travel and leisure company Transat AT.Aimia’s other new partner is Flair Airlines, which began operating no-frills scheduled services to several cities last year from a hub at Edmonton International Airport.They join Toronto-based Porter Airlines as recent partners in the Aeroplan points system, which Air Canada has said it will replace with its own loyalty points program when the Aimia contract expires.Air Canada led a consortium of bidders to buy the loyalty program for as much as $325 million plus $2 billion of points liabilities, an offer that Aimia rejected last week.Aimia has said it remains open to negotiating a fair deal with Air Canada and indicated that it would consider an offer of at least $450 million.
THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT has spoken directly to the American people in an opinion piece published in the New York Times today.In the article, Vladimir Putin warned that any US strike on Syria would result in more innocent victims and an escalation of violence. It could also spread the conflict beyond the country’s borders he said.“It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa.“No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect,” he added.Moscow has staunchly opposed any military intervention in Syria as the US, the UK and France prepare to take action following a deadly gas attack in Damascus on 21 August which allegedly killed more than 1,400 civilians, including hundreds of children.Russia has not denied that the attack but questions if Bashar Assad’s regime was responsible. Putin writes:No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.Putin also warned that the United Nations could collapse (citing the fate of the League of Nations) if the US “bypass” it and take action without Security Council authorisation.He argued that Syria is “not witnessing a battle for democracy” but an armed conflict in a multi-religious society.“There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government,” he said, before criticising American foreign policy.It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”“But force has proved ineffective and pointless,” he continued, noting that Afghanistan is ‘reeling’, Libya is divided and dozens are killed each day in Iraq the civil war continues.“In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.”Concluding, Putin urged continued dialogue between Washington and the Kremlin on Syria.“If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues,” he said before claiming that his relationship with President Obama is marked by “growing trust”.However, he finished by strongly disagreeing with some of his words about Americans being ‘exceptional’ from his Tuesday night address.“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” he said. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva today to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on a plan for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal.Overnight, the five permanent members of the Security Council held inconclusive talks on Syria at the United Nations.Read the full Op-Ed on the New York Times website here>Obama: “I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions”Explainer: What is going on in Syria?