Thursday,  August 22, 2019  12:18 pm

Air Canada promises 2019 will be 'Year of the Customer'

Air Canada promises 2019 will be 'Year of the Customer'
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

While the final sales numbers are yet to be revealed, Air Canada is celebrating a record 2018 as it heads into what VP of Global Sales & Alliances John MacLeod described as the “Year of the Customer.”

Welcoming travel partners to its annual trade appreciation evening in Toronto last night (Jan. 21), Air Canada’s sales team shared updates and a look ahead into 2019. Notably, the airline has enjoyed what Virgilio Russi, senior director of sales – Canada, described as “record results” in sales. And as 2019 caps off what Russi called a “three-year growth spurt” marked by dozens of new flights, the airline’s focus will shift to enhancing those new services.

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Virgilio Russi, senior director of sales – Canada

“We haven’t announced our results yet, so while I can’t talk about that in detail, I can say that they are record results, especially in terms of revenue,” Russi said, thanking the travel partners gathered for the event.

“We’re coming off of a three-year growth spurt; we launched more than 50 international and transborder routes in these three years and grew more than 40 per cent in terms of capacity… This year, we’re tapering our growth – we only have two new routes, Bordeaux and Vienna, to launch this year – so it’s going to be calmer. What we’re going to do this year is make all of those routes we launched in 2018 daily and year-round, and I know we can count on your support for that.”

Added MacLeod:

“We’re measured on revenue and I’m happy to say that the sales team have surpassed their 2018 targets, even with the current fuel prices. They were successful because of our partners in travel and our customers and I would like to extend a thank-you from all 35,000 of our Air Canada employees.”

John MacLeod, VP of global sales & alliances, Air Canada

The Year of the Customer

According to MacLeod, Air Canada will undertake a number of customer-focused initiatives over the next 12 months, dubbing 2019 as the airline’s Year of the Customer.

These include:

  • Updating and replacing the domestic North American narrow-body fleet, including the addition of the new A220 later this year, while replacing existing A320s and A319s with B737-800 MAX aircraft;
  • The roll-out of the new Altea reservations system (part of the Amadeus product line), which will replace the 20-year-old RES III system, offering an expanded product range and enhanced capabilities in dealing with schedule changes and irregular operations;
  • The launch of the new Aeroplan loyalty program, following the recent finalization of a $450 million purchase of the program from Aimia.

“There’s growth and new destinations, but the focus will be on our customers,” MacLeod said of the year ahead.