Air Transat is almost two different airlines – winter versus summer; Cuba is #1 year-round

The difference between Air Transat’s winter and summer networks is probably best illustrated with these maps from our clever friends at OAG. The prevalence of Caribbean routes in the winter (week commencing 10 March) switches over to Europe in the summer (week commencing 9 August). It’s almost like looking at the network of two different airlines.

Canada’s fifth largest airline in terms of weekly seats this March (behind Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing Airlines and Porter Airlines) is Air Transat. However, in the second week of August this year it will be the fourth largest, as Sunwing drops to eighth and Porter grows in size (from 69,560 to 73,186 weekly seats) to claim third spot. Nothing unusual in that, airlines are often in a state of flux when it comes to their respective market positions. More interesting is the switch in the airline’s destination markets, from predominantly Caribbean routes in the winter to European in summer, but with little change in its weekly capacity. In W15/16 (week commencing 10 March) Air Transat will operate 64,048 seats versus S16 (week commencing 9 August), when it will fly 65,163 seats, or just 1.7% difference between the two. Compare this to another leisure-based Canadian airline Sunwing, which falls from 72,198 to 22,113 weekly seats between winter and summer seasons. This may have something to do with the difference in the two airline’s fleets, both of which total 40 aircraft, with Air Transat’s (nine A310s, 12 A330s, two 737-700s and 17 737-800s) containing wide-bodies, whereas Sunwing is solely narrow-bodied (40 737-800s), according to ch-aviation. As a result the former’s mixed fleet allows it to consider a broader range of destinations.

Toronto-Punta Cana #1 – or is it Montreal-CDG?

Looking at Air Transat’s winter network, services to the Caribbean are the most important, commanding nine of the airline’s top 12 routes, with two European services (highlighted in light green) also making it into the airline’s most significant winter operations. In terms of which routes make it into both top 12 listings, there are only five, two Canada-Caribbean, two Canada-Europe, and the domestic sector between Toronto and Montreal. These top 12 routes are responsible for 35% of Air Transat weekly seats in winter, and 38% in S16.

Source: OAG Schedules Data w/c 10 March and 9 August.

It is interesting to note that the domestic sector (which highlighted are in Air Transat blue) of Montreal to Toronto appears in the top 12 winter and summer routes, and that it is available for sale on the carrier’s website. Another domestic route, from Calgary to Edmonton was listed in the top 12 too by the OAG schedule data for W15/16, however this city pair was not available for sale on Air Transat’s website and was therefore removed from its biggest winter route listing. Confusingly, Vancouver to Calgary, 12th in the summer top 12 routes, is available for purchase.

20 country markets this summer

Currently Air Transat is operating to 17 country markets, which will increase to 20 in August. However, the make-up of those markets is significantly different with St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Colombia, Costa Rica and Martinique in the Caribbean offered in the winter but not in the summer. This August, the airline will fly to nine European countries (highlighted in light green), namely Italy, Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Switzerland, all markets not operated to this March.

Source: OAG Schedules Data w/c 10 March and 9 August.

Although the airline does clearly offer domestic seats for sale, as suggested above, the Canadian market has been omitted from this chart. As the base country for the airline’s international operations, it is clearly the most important country market. When considering year-round operations for the airline (adding winter and summer weekly seats), Cuba is the #1 country market, followed by Dominican Republic and Mexico. In terms of European destinations, France is fourth overall, just ahead of the UK in fifth. The top 12 countries represent 90% of all seats in March 2016, whereas in August 2016 the top dozen command slightly less capacity, around 81%.

Further European route launches planned

When consulting’s New Route Database, the airline is planning to launch the following services later this year, most of which are new European city pairs:

  • 25 May – Vancouver (YVR) Rome Fiumicino (FCO);
  • 29 May ‒ Montreal (YUL) to Glasgow (GLA);
  • 29 May ‒ Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Nice (NCE);
  • 14 June – Toronto Pearson (YYZ) to Zagreb (ZAG);
  • 7 November – Toronto Pearson (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL) to Rio Hato (RIH).

Air Transat launched a weekly service from Toronto, via Montreal, to Budapest on 17 June last year. The Canadian carrier’s network switches from a Caribbean to a European bias every northern hemisphere summer season, with this new route being just one example of that phenomenon.


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