MIAMI – Earlier this week, the flag carrier of Canada announced that it would expand its operations south of the border starting in May 2017. It is adding three destinations to its route map: San Antonio, Memphis and Savannah.
Additionally, the Montreal-based air carrier is launching flights between Montreal-Trudeau and Dallas/Forth Worth, and from Vancouver to Denver. The airline is also expanding its current winter seasonal service to year-round between Vancouver and Phoenix.
“These new routes will further solidify Air Canada’s position as the leader in the Canada-U.S. transborder market and as the foreign carrier flying the most to the US. Apart from linking Canada’s largest cities with popular U.S. destinations, these new and expanded services will also serve to channel traffic to and from our domestic and international networks through our major airport hubs, contributing to the success of our ongoing global expansion,” said Benjamin Smith, Air Canada’s President, Passenger Airlines.
The new non-stop routes will be operated by Air Canada’s various regional partners under the Air Canada Express brand. According to the airline, all the flights are scheduled to conveniently connect with Air Canada’s domestic and international schedule at its hubs.
Increased Presence in the Southeast
Air Canada is increasing its presence in the Southeast of the United States with new flights to Memphis, Tennessee. The air carrier is returning to Memphis after serving the airport until September 2012. The route was also previously operated by Delta until the airline phased out its Memphis hub after its merger with Northwest Airlines. Memphis is known for FedEx’s global cargo airline hub.
The outbound flight will depart Toronto at 14:05 and arrive in Memphis at 15:20. The inbound flight will leave Memphis at 15:50 and arrive early in the evening at 19:04. The flights will be operated once a day by Air Georgian’s 50-seater CRJ 100.
Air Canada is also launching summer seasonal flights to Savannah, Georgia, a popular tourist destination in the summer months. The route will be operated everyday, except on Saturdays by by Air Georgian using a CRJ 100 aircraft. The flight will depart Toronto at 12:35 and land in Savannah at 14:50. The flight to Toronto will depart Savannah at 15:20 and land in the ate afternoon at 17:35. The summer seasonal service will end on October 15, 2017 and resume in the spring.
Comprehensive Market in Texas
San Antonio will become Air Canada’s fourth destination in Texas. The air carrier already flies to Austin, Dallas and Houston. After the successful launch of the Toronto-Austin route back in May 2015, Air Canada will now serve one of Texas most fast growing city. It will enable San Antonio locals to fly to a variety of international destinations via a connection in Toronto.
San Antonio International Airport is currently only served by domestic airlines flying to their major hubs and focus cities and a few Mexican carriers flying to Mexico City and secondary airports.
The daily flight will be operated by Sky Regional Airlines’ Embraer 175 aircraft which features 9 seats in Business and 64 seats in Economy. The flight will leave Toronto at 12:50 and arrive in San Antonio at 15:39. The return flight will depart at 16:15 and arrive at 20:20 in Toronto for the evening banks of flight going to Europe.
Additionally, Air Canada is launching daily flights between Montreal-Trudeau and Dallas/Ft. Worth, increasing its presence further in the Lone Star State. The airline already flies to Dallas from Toronto and soon Vancouver (February 2017). Like the San Antonio flight, the route will be flown using an Embraer 175 operated by Sky Regional.
The flag carrier will compete directly with American Airlines who flies daily. In the recent years, the capacity on this route has gone down drastically. American used to operate mainline service with the Boeing 737-800. The aircraft was downgraded to an Airbus A319 for a few months before switching to a 76-seat regional aircraft operated by Envoy.
Vancouver Hub Expansion
Air Canada is also strengthening its western hub and main Asian gateway. It is launching two daily flights between Vancouver and Denver. The air carrier operated the route for the last time in September 2001.
These flights will be operated by Jazz’s CRJ 705s that feature 10 seats in Business and 65 seats in Economy. The air carrier will operate one flight in the morning and one flight in the afternoon to Denver. Starting on September 10, only the afternoon rotation will be operated for the winter season. The airline will compete directly with Star Alliance partner United Airlines which operates up to three daily flights.
The airline also announced the conversion to year-round service of the Vancouver-Phoenix route. The route is currently operated in the winter only by Air Canada Rouge’s Boeing 767-300ER. The city pair will switch to daily regional jet service on May 1, 2017.
Vancouver International Airport is a key hub for Air Canada, especially since it’s the airline primary gateway to Asia. Back in September 2016, the air carrier announced new flights to Taipei and Nagoya.
Sixth Freedom Traffic Growth Possible with New Aircraft Deliveries
Air Canada continues to focus on its sixth freedom strategy growth. It is working to position its hubs (especially Toronto) as attractive connections from destinations in the United States that are poorly served internationally. This is the direction the airline has been heading for the past few years.
Air Canada will be able to expand its network starting next spring with the deliveries of new and used large 76-seats regional jets. Most of the longer stage lengths routes announced are possible with the delivery of five new CRJ 900s and five used Embraer 175 in the spring of 2017.