MIAMI — Air Canada will be launching all-new, nonstop services between Montreal and Toulouse, France. Even though the carrier has not advertised it as ‘The Airbus Shuttle,’ it’s clear that traffic between both of Airbus’ assembly lines in Mirabel and Toulouse are driving plenty of traffic, which the Canadian Flag Carrier intends to capture.
The five-times-per-week service will begin from June 4 next year on the carrier’s Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
As explained but Air Canada’s CEO Calin Rovinescu, this route announcement enables connectivity into the aerospace hub that is Toulouse.
“Air Canada is very pleased to offer non-stop, year-round flights linking Montreal and Toulouse. This service will create opportunities to accelerate synergies between two of the world’s leading aerospace industry hubs.”
“Combined with our recently announced non-stop flights between Montreal and Seattle, the world’s other major aerospace hub, starting next year, we are helping solidify Quebec’s position as a global player in the aerospace industry, which will help maintain and encourage the growth of high-skilled, high-paying jobs in the sector,” Rovinescu said.
“This further demonstrates the power of having a global champion in Montreal such as Air Canada; one with the capacity and network breadth to compete effectively in aviation, the most international of businesses”, he added.
The route will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Montreal, with it operating Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Toulouse.
AC826 will depart Montreal at 1915L before arriving into Toulouse at 0815L the next day. The return, AC827, will depart Toulouse at 1000L, before arriving back into Montreal at 1200L the same day.
It is understood that based on seat maps, the A330-300s will offer a capacity of 292 seats in a three-class configuration. The airline will offer 27 seats in Business in its 1-1-1 configuration, followed by 24 seats in Premium Economy in a 2-3-2 configuration as well as 241 seats in Economy offering a 2-4-2 configuration.
With Airbus ramping up production in the likes of Mirabel for the A220 family, it was only a matter of time before this route would be announced.
Air Canada is ultimately capitalizing on what is currently a large production backlog from each manufacturer, securing a lot of repeat business transporting employees to and fro the production hubs.
As mentioned by Rovinescu, the airline has also added non-stop flights to Seattle to cater for the Boeing production site. He also went on to discuss how Toulouse is important to the airline’s internal operations and not just the market the airline is penetrating.
“This new route is our sixth destination in continental France and represents further growth from our Montreal hub, where Air Canada has launched 35 new global routes since 2012,” he added.
“Apart from its attractions as a business travel market, Toulouse is also known for its rich heritage spanning 2,000 years, abundant culture and its culinary scene.”
“At the same time, as this route will be the only year-round service to southwest France from Canada, it will strengthen Montreal’s position as both a business and tourism destination while making it a premier North American Atlantic gateway, conveniently connecting customers to Air Canada’s extensive North American network”, he concluded.
Air Canada is the only carrier in Canada operating year-round services to Toulouse, meaning that competition against seasonal operator Air Transat will not be that much of a problem.
It remains clear that the level of customer each carrier wants to attract to its products, with Transat appealing only to the holiday-maker element with Air Canada wanting a chunk of that aerospace market.
Whether Air Transat will respond to this announcement is unclear. But if it is going to, then an upgrade to year-round services is essential for competition.