MONTREAL – Air Canada will be expanding its long-haul network from Vancouver starting in Fall 2017, adding two new routes and expanding capacity to existing or previously-announced services.
These markets will effectively grow the number of services offered by Air Canada and Air Canada Route to 18 destinations, either on a seasonal or year-round basis, from the Vancouver hub (YVR).
Increased Frequencies to Delhi
Starting October 14th, Air Canada will resume its Vancouver to Delhi nonstop service, but increase frequency from 3 weekly flights to 5 weekly flights.
Air Canada launched its first-ever nonstop route to India from Western Canada in October 2016, and the seasonal Vancouver – Delhi flight will run through March, just as it did this previous winter.
This is a popular route operated by the large Punjabi diaspora residing in British Columbia; it provides Star Alliance a 1-stop gateway to India from the U.S. and Canadian West Coast and Rocky Mountains region.
The Delhi route is also timed to commence before the Indian celebrations of Divali begin on October 19, 2017. Air Canada also partners with Star Alliance member — Air India, which has its major hub in Delhi.
Usually, Air Canada places its code on several Air India-operated routes from Delhi to regional markets like Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, and Bangalore.
However, Air India does not place its code on any Air Canada flights operated regionally from any of AC’s Canadian hubs, although the Indian carrier does place its code on several long-haul Air Canada routes, primarily from Europe and Asia to Canada.
Air Canada also operates nonstop flights to Delhi and Mumbai on a year-round basis from its Toronto hub.
Conversion of Melbourne from Seasonal to Year-Round
Air Canada was due to commence seasonal service from Vancouver to Melbourne, Australia on December 1, 2017, but announced today that they will instead offer the route on a year-round basis, effective June 1st, 2018. Air Canada will serve Melbourne 3 times per week, consistent with its prior plans to offer the route on a sub-daily basis.
This will effectively allow Air Canada to offer service to all three markets in Australia year-round. Sydney is a long-standing Air Canada route that is offered on a Boeing 777-200LR series.
The Brisbane service was launched in June 2016 and flies daily service on a Boeing 787 from Vancouver during the Australian peak summer and fall seasons. Similar to the Melbourne announcement, Brisbane was initially intended to be offered on a sub-daily basis, but thanks to strong advanced bookings, Air Canada launched additional frequencies with more capacity prior to the inaugural flight.
Moreover, the progression in bilateral agreements between Canada and Australia have permitted the available seat supply between the two countries to expand significantly in previous months.
Efforts made by Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, have been fruitful to allow both Air Canada and Qantas to increase available seats in Australia and Canada, respectively.
Qantas resumed scheduled service to Canada in January 2015 and continues to offer limited weekly services during peak travel periods (December – January and June – August) at various points throughout the year between Vancouver and Sydney.
Addition of Summer-Seasonal Routes to Paris and Zurich, as well as Second Daily London Heathrow Service
Starting June 7, Air Canada will add 3 weekly services to Zurich from Vancouver, and on June 8, four weekly services from Vancouver to Paris, both on Boeing 787s. The carrier will also add a second daily flight to London Heathrow during the Summer of 2018.
This will bring Air Canada’s roster of European markets from Vancouver to four on AC mainline, and 6 inclusive of Air Canada Rouge. Air Canada mainline added its first non-London Heathrow service from Vancouver in June 2017 with the launch of nonstop service to Frankfurt, scheduled to run seasonally through October 2017 and due to resume again on May 1, 2018. Air Canada Rouge flies to Dublin and London Gatwick from Vancouver.
Unlike some of the other non-London Heathrow markets that Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge offers from Vancouver to Europe, Paris and Zurich will not be uncontested for Air Canada, as there are existing competitors which fly to both cities from YVR.
Air France operates year-round service to Paris from Vancouver, albeit on a sub-daily basis, as does Air Transat, typically during the high season between May through October. Edelweiss Air also flies nonstop between Vancouver and Zurich, also seasonally.
This will be Air Canada’s second attempt at adding double-daily service from Vancouver to London Heathrow during the summer months, from June through September.
The carrier previously offered the additional capacity in Summer 2016 but reverted back to daily in Summer 2017. Rival carrier British Airways had offered additional weekly frequencies (beyond daily) through Summer 2015, but up-gauged its Vancouver route to an Airbus A380 in Summer 2016.
British Airways returned to Vancouver in Summer 2017 with an Airbus A380-800, though only with a daily frequency, and reverts back to a Boeing 747-400 in the fall.
These announcements follow in the footsteps of last weeks’ announcement of nonstop service from Montreal to Tokyo Narita.
Air Canada’s expansion is certainly welcomed by its customers, although investors continue to press for more unit revenue growth against the capacity growth. That being said, Canadians are certainly benefiting from being able to consolidate their travels among one carrier and one alliance, and not just from one core hub (Toronto) as Air Canada balances out its portfolio among secondary hubs in Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary.