Air Canada growing Atlantic services; now represent 25% of all capacity

Image: The Queen
This winter, Air Canada offers nine daily flights from Canada to London Heathrow, facilitating meetings with the country’s remote queen, here seen shaking hands with Canada’s PM Stephen Harper at Buckingham Palace earlier this year. (Photo: Office of the Prime Minister of Canada)

Star Alliance founding member Air Canada (and its partner airline Air Canada Jazz) operates scheduled flights this winter across 58 airports in Canada. With a current combined fleet of 335 aircraft (Air Canada 202, Air Canada Jazz 133), the airline ranks in the top 10 of world airlines based on fleet size. It currently has placed orders for 37 Boeing 787s for delivery during the next decade. Last year, the two airlines combined carried over 32 million passengers. In 2009, capacity (as measured by available seat-miles, ASMs) is down around 5%. Traffic, as measured in revenue passenger-miles is down almost 6%, resulting in the airline’s load factor falling almost one percentage point to 80.6%.

Region ASMs (m)
(Jan-Nov 2009)
Change in ASMs
(v Jan-Nov 2008)
ASM share
Canada 17,914 -4.2% 32.8%
US trans-border 8,761 -8.3% 16.0%
Atlantic 13,821 +1.0% 25.3%
Pacific 8,100 -14.4% 14.8%
Latin America etc 5,999 -1.8% 11.0%
Total 54,595 -5.1% 100.0%
Source: Air Canada

Domestic flights represent well over half of all aircraft movements, but account for less than one-third of capacity when sector length is taken into account. Transatlantic capacity represents one-quarter of the airline’s capacity and this segment has grown by 1% during the first 11 months of 2009. US transborder, Pacific and Latin American capacity all represent between 11% and 16% of the airline’s operations this year.

Toronto offers most non-stop destinations

Image: Air Canda
Hugely dominant: Toronto Pearson offers more than twice as many destinations and flights on Air Canada as the airline’s second largest hub Vancouver.

Air Canada operates twice as many flights from Toronto Pearson airport as it does from any other airport and also serves twice as many non-stop destinations. The airline connects non-stop to 83 international destinations from Toronto, compared with 33 from Montreal and 19 from Vancouver. This week saw the launch of two new US destinations from Calgary as flights began to Honolulu and Kahului.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 December 2009

Other new routes launched this year include international flights between Calgary and Portland (June), Calgary and San Diego (May), Montreal and Geneva (June), Montreal and Houston (November), Montreal and Rome Fiumicino (June) and Vancouver and Newark (April). New domestic routes include Calgary to London (Ontario) and Whitehorse, as well as Vancouver to Fort McMurray. Several more low-frequency seasonal services will commence before the end of the year.

London dominates transatlantic network

During the summer season, Air Canada’s transatlantic network consisted of serving nine airports in Europe and Tel Aviv. During winter, seasonal services to Dublin, Madrid and Rome do not operate.

Chart: AC Atlantic
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 December 2009 and w/c 3 August 2009

Even during winter, Air Canada operates non-stop services to London Heathrow from seven Canadian airports; Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. According to the UK CAA Passenger Survey for 2008, the passenger mix on flights between Heathrow and Canada (on all airlines) was 22% travelling on business, 49% visiting friends and relatives and 29% leisure. Over 70% of passengers on these routes originate elsewhere than the UK (mostly in Canada), which helps explain why Air Canada offers such a wide range of flights to the UK.


  1. Jon says:

    With Air Canada expanding across the Atlantic, could one expect them to resume their flights to Glasgow? Air Canada flew daily from Glasgow International to Toronto for well over 20 years, only axing the flight in 2005 due to strong competition from low cost airline Zoom. Since Zoom’s bankruptcy the Glasgow to Canada market has been hugely underserved.

    Air Canada would make a killing if they came back to Glasgow!

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