Before speaking to a packed room on a sunny evening at False Creek’s Waterview venue, overlooking Vancouver’s sea and mountains, Air Canada’s Vice President of Global Sales, Duncan Bureau told PAX, “We’re excited to have our partners here to celebrate this launch and we need everyone here to support the billions of dollars of investment that’s been made.
"We want to be successful and we want B.C. and all our tourism partners and travel agents to benefit from this.”
Air Canada is due to launch a year-round service from Vancouver to Denver beginning May 18, and seasonal services to Frankfurt and Nagoya starting June 1, Taipei and Gatwick on June 8, and Boston on June 23. A year-round Dallas service was launched on Feb. 5.
Some 170 industry partners gathered on Thursday night to mingle over BC craft beer and wine, with sushi, noodles and pretzels to celebrate the new routes, before enjoying a performance by a Japanese dance group celebrating the cherry blossom season.
Bureau told PAX that Vancouver’s airport business grew by 1.6 million passengers last year with 64 per cent of all the traffic going through Vancouver from Air Canada. “Vancouver is our gateway to Asia, and that is our biggest market internationally from the city.” said Bureau. “The UK is our largest international market, and with Gatwick and Heathrow in operation, we’ll have fifteen flights running daily at peak.”
Virgilio Russi, senior director of sales said, “We have a significant amount of capacity and growth developing here on the West coast and we’re adding seven new markets on top of markets we already have in place.
"It’s a great time for us and we want to celebrate that with our partners. We had a very successful year last year, and there’s so much growth on top of more growth this year! It’s going well.”
Bureau confirmed that Air Canada would be investing significantly in their Vancouver hub. “We’re adding seven new markets on top of markets we already have in place, and we have a significant deployment of our 787 fleet—our newest planes—which are based here," he said.
“We’re taking a bigger presence in the West and we’ll add more capacity to Rouge as well, with more sun destinations, so stay tuned for more additions to that network.”
Speaking of forthcoming new routes, Bureau said, “We’re not quite ready to disclose those new markets that we’ll be adding but we’ll definitely have some exciting new markets that we’ll be announcing later in 2017.”
Following a rousing speech packed with good natured ribbing to his colleagues, Bureau, along with VP of commercial strategy, John Macleod and Western Canada director of sales, Bonnie Walker drew business cards for seven lucky winners for tickets to the new route destinations.