JPMorgan Lands Air Canada as First New Card Partner in a Decade

JPMorgan Chase & Co. won a deal to issue cards in the U.S. for Air Canada, the bank’s first new co-brand card partner in more than a decade.

The companies plan to introduce the airline’s Aeroplan credit card in late 2021, using the Mastercard Inc. network, according to a statement Monday. The expectation is that air travel will have begun to recover by then with the advent of vaccines and promising new therapies for the coronavirus pandemic, Mark Nasr, the airline’s vice president for loyalty and e-commerce, said in an interview.

“We are obviously hopeful with the rollout of the vaccines that much brighter times lie ahead, particularly toward the latter half of next year,” Nasr said. “There’s a lot of evidence piling up that there’s this big latent demand for travel. It should be, in many respects, a great time to launch the co-brand.”

The international air-travel market between the U.S. and Canada was the largest in the world before the pandemic, but the border between the two countries has been closed to non-essential travel for much of the year. JPMorgan and Air Canada are focusing on consumers with roots on both sides of the border, such as the one million Canadians who have homes in the U.S., Nasr said.

“People have been through the pandemic, feeling cooped up,” Ed Olebe, president of co-brand cards at JPMorgan, said in an interview. “We’re seeing that there’s pent-up demand. If you think about the future of travel, we’re definitely bullish on that.”

While JPMorgan has launched a bevy of new products for existing card partners in recent years, Air Canada will be the lender’s first new partnership since it introduced a card with Hyatt Hotels Corp. in 2010.

“We’re very selective,” Olebe said. “We do see a lot of opportunities in co-brands, but we want to find a partner that is in a space that makes sense.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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