Air Canada along with Transat Inc., parent of the Canadian leisure specialist Air Transat, and Chorus Aviation, which controls the regional and charter carrier Jazz Air, have all secured final court approvals to raise their respective foreign ownership levels to the maximum permitted under the Canada Transportation Act (CTA).

The Quebec Superior Court issued the final order effecting amendments to Air Canada's and Transat's articles of incorporation to raise their level of non-Canadian ownership from 25% to 49%, according to separate company statements issued on May 8.

The CTA amendments have simultaneously introduced two new limitations on voting ownership and control, by capping the voting rights of single non-Canadians and of the aggregate of non-Canadian air carriers at 25%.

A Chorus Aviation statement dated May 13 said that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had issued an order on its behalf, specifying the same details.

Following an announcement by Transat on April 30 saying it was in preliminary talks with more than one party about a possible purchase of the corporation, several other interested buyers have come forward.

Pierre Karl Peladeau, CEO of media firm Quebecor Inc. said he had commissioned a financial analysis of Transat, the Canadian Press news agency reported, while Montreal-based real estate developer Vincent Chiara said he had also submitted an offer.

Onex Corp.’s CAD5 billion Canadian dollar (USD3.71 billion) acquisition of WestJet was a signal that Canadian airlines have consistently been undervalued compared to those in other countries, industry analysts told Canada's Financial Post newspaper. They named Air Canada, TUI Group, and WestJet itself as possible buyers for Air Transat.

Canada's cargo carriers are also looking at the potential of foreign ownership. Cargojet Airways recently released a statement saying that from May 8 its common and variable voting shares would trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under a single ticker, a move designed to facilitate investment by non-Canadians.

Since the Canadian government agreed last year to increase foreign ownership caps on local carriers, virtually all of Canada's Tier I carriers have signalled an intention to open up their shareholdings to foreign investment.

Thus far, Flair Airlines has sold a 25% stake to Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners while start-up carrier Jetlines has secured investment from Latvian ACMI/charter specialist SmartLynx Airlines. Enerjet, which aims to transform itself into an ultra-low-cost-carrier with a relaunch towards year-end, has announced a partnership with US LCC specialist Indigo Partners.