Not to be deterred by the COVID-19 border restrictions, which effectively shut down Air Canada’s international network for more than a year, the flag-carrier intends to completely reconstruct international flights and reclaim its place among the world’s elite global carriers.
“Our international network is not inactive. In an interview with Routes, Air Canada senior VP-network planning Mark Galardo said, “We’re operating at 30% of usual activity.” “Our bets will be placed on the international level.”
He emphasized that Canada is a multicultural country with three main international hub airports: Montreal (YUL), Toronto Pearson (YYZ), and Vancouver (YVR) (YVR). “It’s no secret that restoring the international network and building up those three hubs on the international stage is our way to rebuilding,” Galardo added.
“Restarting the network is a function of the virus and how it evolves,” he continued. “There are indications that the transatlantic rebound will be very solid… We anticipate a major rebound in Asia and Australia sometime in 2022 or 2023.”
Galardo recognized that areas of the world with low COVID-19 immunization rates made restoring services to these locations difficult in the short term.
Nonetheless, he confirmed that all 37 of Air Canada’s Boeing 787 aircraft are back in operation. The 787 will be “more important than before the pandemic,” he says. “With a considerably more efficient platform, the 787 has the same capability as a 777.” He stated that reducing seat mile costs would be crucial in the future.
Prior to the pandemic, Air Canada was actively pursuing foreign passengers from the United States, attempting to entice US tourists to connect via a Canadian hub to their final destination.
Air Canada, according to Galardo, is also making effective use of the A220, which he describes as a “wonderful pandemic airplane and a terrific post-pandemic airplane.” With demand still weak due to the COVID-19 virus, he claims that the A220 “can connect any two points in North America at unit costs of a larger narrowbody without the hazards of placing a large narrowbody on a route.”
The bottom line, according to Galardo, is that the rehabilitation will be “rough,” but “after 16 months of suffering, we’re now on the way to recovery.”