While Air Canada is busy ramping up flights from Sydney and Brisbane, the Star Alliance member is also looking forward to restarting its non-stop Melbourne-Vancouver route as more aircraft become available.
“We would love to see Air Canada back in Melbourne” Mark Nasr, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President Marketing and Digital, tells Executive Traveller “and it’s certainly a service that is on our list… but we are short on aircraft.”
And while Air Canada is reported to be closing on a deal for up to 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to both renew and expand its long-range fleet, the delivery of any factory-fresh jets would be years away as Boeing struggles to hit its pre-pandemic output.
In the shorter term, Nasr suggests Melbourne-Vancouver could be relaunched as a seasonal service spanning the Australian winter months, which is how it began in late 2017 before moving to a daily schedule.
This would hinge on the arrival of long-range Airbus A321XLR jets from 2025, which “will allow us to serve destinations across the Atlantic as within North and Central America.”
Nasr says some destinations would be “better served” by this 182-seat single-aisle jet rather than the airline’s larger 298-seat Boeing 787 or the flagship 450-seat Boeing 777, “particularly in the northern winter, which is peak season down here in the southern summer.”
“So we're looking at a world where as these aircraft come in there'll be some wide-body capacity that’s freed up… for seasonal markets within the Asia-Pacific region.”
New York via Vancouver
For Australian travellers, Air Canada’s appeal lays beyond Vancouver or even the rest of the
Great White North, with fast and easy transits to the US letting passengers skip the headaches of Los Angeles, San Francisco and co.
“We were the fastest way to get from Melbourne to New York at the time,” reflects Vic Naughton, Air Canada’s General Manager, Australia & New Zealand, "and at the moment we’re the fastest from Brisbane to New York,” with Sydney-New York being “very, very close.”
“We’re longer in the air but less time at the airport, because a lot of travellers (from Australia) aren’t necessarily just going to San Francisco or Los Angeles,” so they value “a really simple, quick and easy connection process in Vancouver to New York, Washington, Denver, Miami or wherever it might be.”
Naughton estimates that of all Air Canada passengers flying from Sydney or Brisbane, “roughly half” end their journey at the airline’s Vancouver hub.
“Another quarter go onwards to other points of Canada, and probably 20% are going to the US, with 5% going everywhere else.”