Air Canada announced two new non-stop routes out of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on August 31 and revealed plans to add flights to three other cities.
The airline’s inaugural flights on new non-stop routes to Zurich and to Paris will both launch in June 2018 with tickets going on sale on September 6. The airline will fly four times per week to Paris and three times per week to Zurich.
“In Switzerland, the value of the Swiss currency is very beneficial and we see a lot of growth in Switzerland’s inbound traffic into Canada,” Air Canada vice-president for network planning, Mark Galardo told Business in Vancouver after a ceremony at YVR.
The airline already flies two flights between Switzerland and Canada: Geneva–Montreal; and Zurich–Toronto.
For Metro Vancouver travellers, the new routes mean more flexibility but not a major change given that Air France already flies non-stop flights between YVR and Paris and Swiss Air already flies non-stop flights between Vancouver and Zurich.
Another Air Canada announcement was that it will increase the frequency of its current non-stop flights to Delhi to five flights per week, up from the current three flights per week. The route, which launched last year, will remain seasonal during the winter.
“We’re trying to match supply with demand,” Galardo said.
“Obviously our start was successful. Now we’re taking another major leap by almost doubling the frequency and we’ll see how that goes. Our goal is to get to daily, year-round service. With time we’ll get there.”
Air Canada, which is the largest carrier out of YVR, had already announced plans to launch its first non-stop flights between YVR and Melbourne on December 1 for a three-month trial run.
Flights between YVR and Melbourne will operate four times per week between December and February, as planned, but the airline will relaunch the route on a three-times-per-week basis in June 2018 year round.
Other Air Canada non-stop flights to Australia include the decades-old non-stop, daily, year-round service between Vancouver and Sydney as well as the non-stop, daily, year-round flights to Brisbane, which launched last year.
Galardo said the airline is not considering any more routes to Australia and has no plans to fly non-stop to New Zealand.
Air Canada’s other announcement about added flights from YVR was that it will fly twice daily to London’s Heathrow Airport in summer 2018. It currently flies daily non-stop flights year-round to that airport.
No airline currently flies non-stop between YVR and South America but Galardo said that Air Canada has considered non-stop flights to Lima.
“We will consider it as the hub continues to grow,” he said.
“We build critical mass in terms of international destinations and reach. Right now the market [for flights between YVR and Lima] is a bit thin but as we continue to build up the hub and offer more connections to the Asia Pacific, it becomes a possibility. I wouldn’t say it will be something in the short term.”
Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu told the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade earlier this year that he would love to launch added flights and routes into China but that it is difficult to get assigned slots at Chinese airports.
No current Air Canada flights link YVR to southeast Asia but Galardo said non-stop flights to Bangkok and Singapore are being considered because the airline’s fuel-efficient 787-900 Dreamliner aircraft make such destinations feasible.
“We’re considering them,” he said of routes to Bangkok and Singapore.
“We like routes that are counter seasonal, which peak in the winter, so definitely, for us, it’s something we’re considering but there’s no commitment at this time.”
Other Air Canada expansion out of Vancouver in 2017
Air Canada earlier this year launched new flights out of YVR to: Taipei (year-round), Frankfurt (seasonal), Nagoya (seasonal), London-Gatwick (seasonal), Dallas-Fort Worth (year-round), Denver (year-round) and Boston (seasonal).
Routes that the airline plans to launch out of YVR in 2017, aside from the route to Melbourne, include Yellowknife flights on a seasonal basis beginning December 15, and Orlando flights on a seasonal basis beginning December 20.