Monday, October 3, 2016

Air Canada expands India operations with flights to Mumbai

by Soumen Mukherjee


Air Canada had long attempted to set a foothold in Indian market since its first arrival in mid 1980s. But the earlier services were frequently halted due to poor economics of legacy long range aircraft before it has finally developed its niche with the introduction fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner service on routes to India, one of the largest immigrant countries of Canada. The airline which had earlier operated one-stop fifth freedom flights via European gateways like London Heathrow and then Zurich, had launched the non-stop Toronto-Delhi flight in November last year. Following that in April 2016 it went on to launch seasonal service (October to May) between Vancouver and Delhi and now announces Toronto-Mumbai flight from July next year. 

Among the North American legacy carriers, Air Canada is apparently in a better position to deal with the sixth freedom operators of Middle East. While the US3 carriers are engaged in a rhetoric with the ME3 carriers over the alleged state subsidies and the exploitation of US open sky policy, the protectionist measures by the Canadian government (ME3 and TK not allowed to operate to Vancouver) has helped Air Canada to explore more non-stop inter-continental connections. Among the US3 only United operates to India with daily flights to Delhi and Mumbai from its Newark base in east coast while Air Canada is now scheduled to operate three routes. The Canadian airline has so far successfully utilized its Boeing Dreamliner fleet to launch non-stop flights on long thing route for which the aircraft was originally developed. 


Air Canada is unlikely face any direct competition on these routes (non-stop). From the Indian side Jet Airways operate daily one-stop flight between Delhi and Toronto via its European scissor hub Amsterdam. The service is currently being operated on Airbus A330-300 which is slated to be upgraded to Boeing 777-300ER from mid January 2017. Air India which had earlier planned for either Delhi-Toronto non-stop or fifth freedom trans-Atlantic flight via London Heathrow but those plans are shelved for now as the national carrier chose to resume London Heathrow-Newark flight from August this year

Air Canada had earlier operated Mumbai flight last time in 1991. Now they are coming back to after a gap of 26 years. Toronto will be Mumbai airport's third non-stop connections to North America (effectively second destination) while Air India and United both fly to Newark. Till March 2016 Jet Airways used to operate one-stop Newark flight via its then European scissor hub at Brussels which it discontinued in the 2016 summer schedule. Though the Toronto-Mumbai service frequency is scheduled to be three-weekly as of now but we may likely to see an increase in the frequency after the launch of service in July next year as we see in case of its Delhi service which goes on from four-weekly to daily. 

Air Canada's Toronto-Mumbai eff 1/2 July 2017.

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
AC 46
Toronto: 21:35
Mumbai: 21:30+1
Tue, Thu, Sat

AC 47
Mumbai: 23:55
Toronto: 05:35+1
Wed, Fri, Sun


Vancouver is one of the largest unserved market from India with large Indian diaspora based in British Columbia and western Canada. In fact Delhi-Vancouver was on the OAG traffic analyser's list of top 50 unserved/underserved route globally in 2015 with around 320 passengers (one-way) traveling daily. In fact back in 2001, Delhi-Vancouver was originally conceived as Air Canada's first non-stop flight to Delhi (seasonal service) and the airline had even made the announcement for the same in March 2001. But following the 9/11 terror strike in New York, the airlines had scrapped the proposed flight to Delhi. Back then it was meant to become Air Canad's first ever polar route. In April this year the airline has once again announced three weekly seasonal service (October to April) between Delhi and Vancouver. The non-stop service will be operated on its flagship Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft which is expected to follow the same polar routing to considerably reduce the travel time. This will be Delhi airport's second non-stop connections to North American west coast following Air India's Delhi-San Francisco flight. The later is also known to contemplating Los Angeles flight in the near future. 

Air Canada has scheduled the Delhi-Vancouver flight is seasonal (last flight on 6 April YVR dep). 

Air Canada's Delhi-Vancouver schedule eff 20/22 Oct.
Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
AC 72
Vancouver: 23:15
Delhi: 01:55+2
Tue, Thu, Sat

AC 73
Delhi: 06:55
Vancouver: 08:20
Sat, Mon, Thu

On Toronto-Delhi route Air Canada had initially operated both Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 but then upgagued it to all 787-9 from February this year. The frequency is now being increased to daily from 18 October (Toronto departure) which underlines the success of the non-stop service following last year's launch. But as of today Air Canada's reservations system showing the route is once again to be operated on four-weekly basis from May next year. However it remains unclear whether the airline will increase the frequency back to daily from October next year.

Air Canada's Toronto-Delhi schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
AC 70
Toronto: 21:35
Delhi: 20:55+1
1,3,5,7

(4x weekly till 17 Oct)
AC 70
Toronto: 21:35
Delhi: 20:55+1
Daily eff 18 Oct
AC 70
Toronto: 21:35
Delhi: 20:55+1
1,3,5,7

(4x weekly eff 2 May)

AC 71
Delhi: 00:10
Toronto: 05:00
2,3,5,7

(4x weekly till 19 Oct)
AC 71
Delhi: 00:10
Toronto: 05:00
Daily eff 20 Oct
AC 71
Delhi: 00:10
Toronto: 05:00
2,3,5,7

(4x weekly eff 1 May)

18 comments:

  1. Air Canada might need to work on the timings. Vancouver might be better to connect using their AirIndia code share flights on bothways though there is an early morning flight to Vancouver. Not sure why such long turnaround time at Delhi. Currently toronto-delhi arrival makes anyone spend whole night in Delhi airport. I hope AirIndia provides all its codeshare flights on their online booking system.

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  3. Air Canada should have started direct Vancouver Amritsar flights as there is a big Punjabi population in BC. Air India should start direct Amritsar Toronto flights as more than half a million Punjabis live in Toronto area. Passengers from US east coast can also connect via Toronto on Star Alliance partner United Airlines.

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