Canadian carriers Air Canada and Air Transat are to notably grow their networks in Europe in summer 2016, particularly offering improved connectivity into Eastern Europe. Air Canada will use its leisure airline, Air Canada rouge to add flights to Budapest, Glasgow and Warsaw and resume a link to Prague last served in the 1970s, while Air Transat will offer new flights from Canada to Glasgow, Nice, Pisa, Rome and Zagreb.
In the space of just six years, Air Canada has increased its system-wide international capacity by approximately 50 per cent. This year, it launched new international services from Montreal to Venice and Mexico, Vancouver to Osaka, and Toronto to Amsterdam. In November it will begin non-stop service to Dubai and Delhi from Toronto and it has also announced new services beginning in 2016 to Brisbane from Vancouver, to Lyon from Montreal, and to London-Gatwick from Toronto.
The latest growth for Air Canada rouge for summer 2016 will see it introduce a further 12 weekly flights into Europe in summer 2016. These will all be operated using a 280-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft offering a choice of premium and economy cabins.
The new seasonal services will commence from May 29, 2016 when a three-times weekly link between Toronto and Prague is introduced. This marks the return of Air Canada operation on a long-haul route it previously served via Brussels in the mid-1970s using Douglas DC-8 equipment and will see it offer the first scheduled link on the city pair since Czech Airlines ended its summer operation in 2009. This route will be served through to September 29, 2016.
The three times weekly Toronto – Budapest route, which will launch from June 10, 2016 and operate through to October 15, 2016, again marks the return of an historical route previously served by an Eastern European flag carrier. The now defunct Malev had served the city pair up until the second half of the 2000s and Air Canada’s rouge’s arrival will bring some stability and a network offering to a market that was served this summer by private carrier SkyGreece Airlines.
Later the same week, on June 13, 2016, Air Canada rouge will introduce a three times weekly link between Toronto and Glasgow, a market currently already served by Air Transat on a year-round schedule, albeit with a significantly reduced winter offering. The seasonal offer will continue through to September 25, 2016 and marks the return of the Air Canada brand to the Scottish city: it was previously served by its mainline operation in September 2005.
The new three times weekly Toronto – Warsaw seasonal route will commence from June 16, 2016 and operate through to September 30, 2016. This will see Air Canada rouge complement the existing operation of its Star Alliance partner LOT Polish Airlines in this market.
“Our new, non-stop Air Canada rouge routes to Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, and Glasgow from Toronto Pearson are important as we continue to build out our network from our global gateway hub with more international destinations. The European services will be complemented by our Star Alliance partners, giving customers an even wider choice of travel options," said Benjamin Smith, president, passenger airlines, Air Canada.
Meanwhile, Air Transat has confirmed it will offer direct flights to 29 European destinations in its expanded summer 2016 schedule, including additional city pair offerings via new connecting flights within Canada. Its seasonal schedule will see it add Pisa and Zagreb to its destination map as well as new links to Glasgow, Nice and Rome.
"Following the success of our newly launched flights to Budapest and Prague, we are continuing with our development plan by offering the most complete and flexible offer on the market. When it comes to vacations in Europe, Transat's offer is unbeatable as we're offering a program that meets the needs of travellers whose interest in new destinations is growing steadily," said Annick Guérard, general manager, Transat Tours Canada.
The new routes to the Italian city of Pisa and the Croatian capital, Zagreb will commence from June 12, 2016 and June 14, 2016, respectively, and will be flown on a weekly basis using an Airbus A330-200. Pisa will be served from Montreal and Zagreb from Toronto, but Air Transat will offer domestic flights within Canada to provide new connection options.
Every week it will offer four connecting flights from Montreal to Toronto, four from Toronto to Montreal, two from Quebec City to Montreal and two from Vancouver to Toronto.
"In addition to our two new destinations, additional routes and added frequency on existing routes, we are proud to expand our connecting program even further, developing the transatlantic market to a whole new level. These additions have the objective of offering travellers as much choice and flexibility as possible," added Guérard.
Additional growth in existing markets will see Air Transat launch a weekly Toronto – Nice service from May 23, 2016; a weekly Montreal – Glasgow link from May 29, 2016 and a weekly Vancouver – Rome offering from June 17, 2016. The Nice and Glasgow routes will be flown using an A310, while the Rome route will be operated by an A330-200.
Alongside the new routes, Air Transat will also boost capacity and frequency on existing city pairs. This includes additional flights from Montreal to Lyon (five flights a week), Lisbon (four flights a week), London and Toulouse (three flights a week); from Toronto to London (eleven flights a week), Barcelona (four flights a week) and Porto (three flights a week); and from Vancouver to London (seven flights a week).
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data highlights the growing capacity on offer between Canada and Europe over the past ten years. This shows that non-stop capacity between Canada and Europe has grown 28.7 per cent between 2005 and 2014, an average annual rate of 3.2 per cent. Capacity this year is forecasted to rise 6.0 per cent, based on current published schedules. The more mature Western European market dominates and accounts for over 95 per cent of the services, showing the strong potential opportunity of linking Canada with more destinations across Central and Eastern Europe.