MONTREAL, Dec. 6, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - Hundreds of children living with severe illnesses and their families were offered a brief respite today during the annual Flights in Search of Santa organized by Air Transat and the Children's Wish Foundation. Departed on their search for Santa Claus, children were able to find him somewhere in the sky between Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris…and the North Pole!
The memorable day began at the Air Transat check-in counters at Montreal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver and Paris-CDG airports. The festivities continued on to the boarding gate, where a number of activities awaited everyone before take-off. Once in the sky, a surprise guest soon appeared in the cabin: Santa himself!
"For Air Transat, this event has become a real tradition just before the holiday season," said Jean-Francois Lemay, President, Air Transat. "The Santa Flight holds a special place in our employees' hearts and in our corporate responsibility initiatives."
"When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the life of the entire family is affected," shares Chris Kotsopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of the Children's Wish Foundation. "Today, we're not just providing respite from hospital visits, we're creating wonderful memories and holiday magic to cherish, that are unique to our Wish Families."
During this magical day, Air Transat announced a donation of $116,000 to Children's Wish, which represents the amounts collected over the past year as part of the air carrier's Small Change, Big Hearts program and other initiatives, and is in addition to the over $5 million raised for Children's Wish since the inception of the partnership between both organizations in 2004.
The annual Flights in Search of Santa are made possible thanks to the volunteer efforts of Air Transat employees and the generous collaboration of several partners including Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Vancouver airports and Paris Aéroport.
For more information, follow the #SantaFlight hashtag on social media.
About Small Change, Big Hearts
The Small Change, Big Hearts program is supported by the donation of pocket change from Air Transat passengers at the end of each flight. Since December 2009, funds raised through the program have been donated in equal parts to The Children's Wish Foundation and to SOS Children's Villages, an international organization that assists orphaned and abandoned children in 134 countries. Since November 2017, it has also been possible to contribute to Small Change, Big Hearts when booking a package online on transat.com, with a travel consultant or with a Transat call centre agent.
About Children's Wish Foundation of Canada
Children's Wish Foundation of Canada is the largest and only all-Canadian wish granting charity dedicated to granting wishes to Canadian children between the ages of 3 and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For more than 30 years, Children's Wish has worked tirelessly to grant heartfelt wishes to more than 25,000 children and their families – that's three wishes each and every day, all year long!
Children's Wish has chapter offices and professional staff in every province, and each wish family is assigned a dedicated Wish Coordinator who is able to personally and carefully structure each heartfelt wish experience to meet the particular needs of the child and their family. Travel wishes include all siblings 21 years and under living in the same household, and families travel worry-free thanks to exclusive Blue Cross insurance.
Our newly expanded reach, which includes children diagnosed with a serious neurological or genetic illness, means continued strong wish referral support through our medical community. Wish referrals continue to increase year over year, and we are proud to maintain our 'no waiting list' policy, thanks to our generous donors.
Now more than ever, we are encouraging Canadians to donate and support Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. Help us grant the next single-most heartfelt wish. Visit www.childrenswish.ca for more information and to donate.
About Air Transat
Air Transat is Canada's number one holiday travel airline. It flies to some 60 destinations in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, offers domestic and feeder flights within Canada, and carries nearly 4.5 million passengers every year. Based in Montreal, the company employs 3,000 people and operates a fleet of Boeing narrow-body and Airbus wide-body jets. In 2017, Air Transat was named the second-best leisure airline in the world, and the best in North America in the same category for the sixth consecutive year, by Skytrax. In recent years, the carrier has earned multiple distinctions for its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. Since 2011, it has consistently been ranked number one in North America for energy efficiency, and in the Top 20 worldwide, by the Atmosfair Airline Index. Air Transat is a business unit of Transat A.T. Inc., a leading integrated international tourism company specializing in holiday travel and offering vacation packages, hotel stays and air travel. Transat was awarded Travelife Partner status in 2016 in recognition of its commitment to sustainable development. The vacation travel companion par excellence, Transat celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017.
SOURCE Transat A.T. Inc.
Odette Trottier, Transat, Director, Communications and Corporate Affairs, 514 908-8891, firstname.lastname@example.org; Alexandre Rehayem, Children's Wish Foundation, National Manager, Marketing and Communication, 416 848 2238, Alexandre.email@example.com