Vancouver are in it for the long-haul

Air Canada has their sights set on the European market with their latest route announcements, which will mean connections from Vancouver to some of the most important airports in the continent.

Air Canada’s latest network expansion will connect Vancouver to not only a major German hub, but the second busiest airport in the UK. As part of their summer 2017 schedule, the largest airline in Canada will offer a daily service to Frankfurt on Boeing 787-8 aircraft and a three times weekly service to London Gatwick on Boeing 767 aircraft. Both services will run seasonally.

Services to Frankfurt will begin June 2 2017, and Gatwick’s connection will begin June 8 next year.

Benjamin Smith, Air Canada president, passenger airlines said: “We will be the only airline flying non-stop between YVR (Vancouver International Airport) and the two largest airports in the London metropolitan region during the peak summer travel period with the addition of London Gatwick. By next summer, Air Canada will serve five European destinations non-stop from YVR including two significant hubs, Frankfurt and London Heathrow, Dublin and on a code-share basis with joint venture partner Lufthansa, Munich, strengthening YVR as an important hub that connects our BC, Western Canada and US routes to our expanding international network.”

The new routes highlight the focus on not only Europe, but for long-haul routes out of Vancouver. In the last year, the carrier has announced services far and wide to Delhi, India; Brisbane, Australia; Dublin, Ireland; and Osaka, Japan. As part of the schedule for next year, Air Canada customers will be able to fly to Taipei, Taiwan and Nagoya, Japan from Vancouver.

Air Canada’s non-stop Dublin service, on Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, launched in their summer schedule. It offers a three times weekly service to the Irish capital from Canada’s Vancouver International Airport.

Benjamin Smith, Air Canada president of passenger airlines said the airline was “pleased to add the only non-stop flights from Canada’s West Coast to Ireland. We continue to strategically expand our Vancouver hub, and our seasonal Dublin flights follow our recent launch of non-stop flights from Vancouver to Brisbane, San Diego, Chicago, San Jose and the doubling of our daily flights to London Heathrow.”

A direct service between Vancouver and Delhi was one of the most sought after routes by the local community, taking almost three years to execute. Delhi was “probably the most-requested direct flight destination” after Paris, according to Craig Richmond, president of Vancouver Airport Authority. The three times weekly service began last month on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Speaking in October when the route was announced, Smith said: “Our nonstop Dreamliner flights from our Vancouver hub will also offer the shortest elapsed flying time from Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles to Delhi.” The new direct service has taken around eight hours off the travel time between the two cities.

To date, Air Canada has taken delivery of eight 787-8 aircraft and 13 787-9 aircraft. There are still 37 planes on order for the carrier, 8 being 787-8 and 29 787-9 aircraft models.

The first Dreamliner was delivered to Air Canada in 2014. The carrier utilises their Dreamliner aircraft on routes to Copenhagen, London-Heathrow, Frankfurt, Zurich, Madrid, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Delhi, Dubai, Seoul, Brisbane and Tokyo-Narita. Both Seoul and Brisbane routes are served from Vancouver.

Air Canada’s expansion at Vancouver has helped the airport to achieve their best passenger figures in their history. In 2015, for the first time, more than 20 million passengers used Vancouver International Airport. It is expected that this will increase for 2016 to 23 million passengers.

Earlier this month, Vancouver welcomed Sichuan Airlines’ inaugural flights between the Canadian city and Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport, the only non-stop service between Zhengzhou and North America. The twice-weekly service is operated on Airbus A330-200 aircraft. By the end of the 2016 calendar year, Vancouver will have service from six Mainland Chinese carriers, more than any other airport in North America and Europe.

Other Chinese carriers who have begun, or are due to begin service this year are Beijing Capital Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. Beijing Capital will connect Vancouver to Hangzhou via Qingdao on December 30, offering a three times weekly service on A330 aircraft. Xiamen Airlines, on the other hand, offer a year round, non-stop three times weekly service to Xiamen, the airline’s fist North American destination. This route will be served by Boeing 787 equipment.

Last month, Vancouver International Airport was named the best airport in the world by Centre for Aviation (CAPA). Previous recipients of this award includes Changi International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.