As it joins other Canadian airlines rushing to get customers out of Hurricane Irma's path in the Caribbean, Air Transat parent company Transat A.T. Inc. says it doesn't expect to feel much future financial impact from the storm's havoc.
Irma is the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. Montreal's Air Transat, alongside Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., have sent dozens of extra flights to destinations in the storm's path in recent days, with plans to evacuate customers in Florida, too.
While summer is the low season for Transat's Caribbean tourism offerings, long-term hurricane damage to its destinations, including the hotel properties that it books in the region, is yet to be seen, which could affect travel well beyond the hurricane season.
Transat reported third-quarter 2017 financials Thursday morning, and on a conference call with analysts, chief financial officer Denis Pétrin first said the company had "little information" about the hurricane season's impact on the Caribbean region, a major focus of the company's winter tourism portfolio.
But even factoring in raised fuel costs from Hurricane Harvey's assault on Texas, as well as emergency flights to evacuate customers from Irma's path, Mr. Pétrin said that in the company's current forecasts, "as we speak, we're not talking about major" financial impacts for the forthcoming quarter.
Transat expects its adjusted operating income for fourth-quarter 2017 should be "similar" to that of 2015, when it was $70.8-million. In 2016, the quarter's adjusted operating income was $46.5-million.
This week, Transat said it launched evacuation operations for Cuba and the Dominican Republic, scheduling 10 flights to each country. Those from the Dominican Republic were scheduled to return to Canada by the end of Wednesday, while passengers from Cuba were expected to arrive late on Thursday. A Florida evacuation plan is forthcoming.
Air Canada said Wednesday that it would send 24 additional flights to the Dominican Republic, Florida, Cuba, Antigua and Providenciales to bring customers there home early in response to the storm. It said it would also bring in larger planes with more seats for standard flights from destinations including Havana and Nassau.
WestJet said it sent rescue flights to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Turks and Caicos Wednesday, though declined to say how many planes it had sent or would send. The Calgary-based carrier said it would add additional flights soon to Santa Clara, Cayo Coco and Varadero, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas; and Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"We advise that anyone in the area follow the instructions of local authorities and the hotels who are experienced in implementing their own hurricane preparedness plans," a WestJet spokesperson said by e-mail.
Both Air Canada and Air Transat have implemented policies offering customers whose travel plans intersect with the hurricane the chance to change flights. Air Transat is also offering the option to travel to another city.
WestJet said it would offer customers "flexible change and cancel rules" because of the storm.
In its earnings release Thursday, Transat revealed a quarterly profit attributable to shareholders of $26.6-million, nearly triple the same quarter last year. Hurricane Harvey drove up fuel prices for the company, though it said the impact would be reduced by the company's hedging program.