China Eastern Airlines is planning to launch flights between Shanghai Pu Dong and Toronto’s Lester B Pearson International Airport, its second destination in Canada. Although the airline declined to comment on the plans when questioned during this year’s Routes Asia conference in Kuching, Sarawak, China, the latest update to its GDS inventory shows that flights could commence in June, subject to final agreements being signed.
Details of the anticipated new route, which will place the carrier in direct competition with Air Canada, were first revealed by our schedules blog, Airline Route, earlier this month. It reported that a schedule for a three times weekly rotation from June 25, 2014, operated using an Airbus A340-600, first appeared on March 3, 2014 but reservations are not currently permitted.
There have been rumours for a while that Chinese carriers were looking closely at introducing flights into Toronto and last year both Air China and Hainan Airlines had expressed interest in operating on the route. In fact, Air China made an application to the CAAC to launch its own three times weekly service on the route in the final quarter of last year with a proposed February 2014 start date, according to aviation officials, although no formal confirmation on the status of the application has been subsequently revealed.
Hainan Airlines, which is the only Chinese carrier to currently serve Toronto through its flights from Beijing (also in competition with Air Canada), is also set to introduce flights on the Shanghai – Toronto city pair with a twice weekly connection from May 26, 2014 using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
In our analysis below we look in greater detail at the growing O&D passenger demand between Shanghai and Toronto over the past ten years. The data shows that demand has trebled across the period, exceeding the 150,000 passenger milestone for the first time in 2013.