Yes, lets discuss the future of the regionals. I was in rather a rush this morning, and I thought you were just asking whether they would be sold, which as you can see a few already were. I'll discuss them individually.
There is no question that competition will survive on western regional routes. Westjet ensures that quite well. Westjet is a strong competitor, but does not, however, seem to be interested in expanding eastward. It partly would have to do with a lack of longer range aircraft, and they don't seem keen on adding more types to the fleet, or for that matter on adding more stops to get there. And there is a fairly strong prescence of the charter airlines on longer range routes. I think I'll discuss the charters in a moment, though. As far as Westjet goes, it serves most of the routes AC or CP have their regionals serve with either BAe146's or F28's. Winnipeg-Thunder Bay, Edmonton-Fort McMurray, Regina-Calgary, Regina-Winnipeg are all mostly served by Dash8's, and CP has Calm Air flying Saab 340's on some of those routes. And Whitehorse is too seasonal a route. Although there is room to expand on some of those, they will do so slowly. And on busier routes such as Winnipeg-Saskatoon where AC flies some A320's, Westjet already has some significant presence. Basically Westjet is a niche market operator. They offer larger, low seat-mile cost 737's into some smaller airports, but without the frequencies, the variety of connections, and without frills. They are very successful with this, but are not a head to head competitor, but they get their traffic by offering an alternative service, not merely moving into routes where everyone else flies. Also, WJ is very disciplined, and they don't look at what the other guys are doing. They worry about creating new traffic and finding niche markets, but don't expand too fast. This is why they are so successful, supposedly with a better operating margin than Southwest in the USA. One other thing about WJ-I don't think I'd call them a discount airline. They are a regional operator, and a low-cost operator, but they don't strictly make their money because their seats are cheaper than anyone else.
As far as Canadian North, I think they're kind of up in the air right now. Their aircrews, aircraft, maintenance, and much of their operational planning is done for them by Canadian Airlines. I would not be surprised if they merely evapourated without a trace, simply sending everything back to CP. It could also be very possible that they merge with First Air. They may also continue on independantly, or be allowed to continue to feed CP/AC under a similar deal to that which AC has with First Air. I'm not really sure that there is such a thing as a likely outcome, anything could happen with them. I haven't heard anything about what will happen to them. Also, regarding the Arctic carriers, I have to say that I wouldn't be surprised if First Air took over the Whitehorse flights for AC/CP. It just seem to me that it would fit with their existing services, and their code-share with AC.
As far as Inter-Canadian, I think they're gone. They are still shut down, and I'm not sure they will start back up again. An article I read in the paper seemed to make their situation even more unclear, as it seem there is very little disclosed about their management structure, finances, or ownership. I personally hope they can restart, and run as an independant eastern regional airline with F28's throughout Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. The last thing that would be needed is another AC/CP feeder. I would also like to see them in a code-share with a US based airline, perhaps US Airways. However, that does not appear likely.
Now regarding the Deluce proposal. I personally feel it is a bad proposal. It would be OK if it operated regionals for AC/CP on a contract basis and ran their own competitive business separately, but it appears to me that they want to have an exclusive agreement with AC/CP for 10 years to carry their passengers, but also want to be able to carry passengers for other airlines or from their own sales on those same flights. What this means is that they not only would have their own market share in any given market, but would also have AC/CP's. And AC/CP wouldn't be allowed to compete. This would be an even tougher market for any real new competition. It also appears that they want to fly to Chicago, and some other cities in the USA. Again, it appears that they want to squeeze out AC. If they operated a totally separate franchise for AC and competed separately for traffic, that would be OK, but they shouldn't tie AC's hands while wrapping up the regional market. I think that overall it would be better if AC kept its regionals and other new competition was encouraged.
Charters are an important part of Canada's air traffic. I think I read somewhere that on transcontinental traffic they actually carry more passengers (all the charters combined, that is) than Canadian Airlines. Between Skyservice, Canada3000, Air Transat and Royal it's a strong industry. And if restrictions were removed from their operations, it could grow even stronger. The botton line is that it is strong competition on longer range routes. I am also somewhat expecting that there will be a new charter start-up, perhaps in Vancouver or Edmonton. Please don't start a rumour about it, I haven't heard anything about it, but I think there would be a potential for a new entrant airline in this category in the vacuum left by the combining of AC and CP operations.
Now regarding the Hamilton based discount airline proposal. There are two proposals, one by Air Canada and another dubbed CanJet. I don't know much about the CanJet idea or the AC one, there hasn't been much said other than that they would operate in the area east of Winnipeg. I feel that this should be a chance to start a real competitor, so I think CanJet should have a 2 year start up period before AC would be allowed to start up its discount operator. Failing that, AC should be forced to give up some counter space in Hamilton and be warned that should new competition not materialize in two or three years that it could be forced to divest its discount subsidiary.
So there you go, there's a start to discussions. In short I think a good strong network of independant regionals and the charters taking a bigger role will probably mean healthy competition. There has to be, however, slots, gates, counter space, and any other facilities made availiable for startups or expansion of those. In the end I want to see both a strong AC/CP and strong competitors as well. Please respond, comment, whatever.
By the way TWA319, what's an Aussie so interested in aviation way out here for? I think it's great, and come to think of it the feeling is probably reciprocal, but why?
One last thing. I'm not sure about all of their routes in Manitoba, but I believe JV is flying Winnipeg to Flin Flon, The Pas, and is running aircraft between Winnipeg and Ontario. They may fly to Churchill and Thompson as well, not sure.