While probably not something that will impact most of us, who doesn’t love a bit of airline/airport drama?
Airlines and airports obviously work really closely together. Airports are businesses, and their goal is to attract as many destinations and passengers as possible. Similarly airlines want to defend their business and increase/maintain their market share as much as possible. Often airports and airlines have the same interests, while other times they don’t.
The Edmonton Journal covers a case where an airport and airline relationship goes sour, specifically between Air Canada and Edmonton Airport.
Icelandair will be launching service between Edmonton Airport and Reykjavik as of March 5, 2014, and not surprisingly for such a route, the airport provided some financial incentives. Much of Icelandair’s traffic comes not from people actually traveling to/from Iceland, but rather those connecting to elsewhere in Europe, given the 20+ destinations they have there.
Air Canada presently offers year-round service between Edmonton Airport and London Heathrow, so not surprisingly they weren’t happy about this announcement, but can they really blame the airport for wanting to attract a new route?
The CEO of Edmonton Airport said this in regards to the new route:
“In nine hours, you can be in Paris from Edmonton,” Milley told reporters at the time. “The other thing is that going through Heathrow can be a bit of a challenge for people if they’re connecting on to go somewhere else, whereas Reykjavik will be a really friendly airport for them to be able to go through.”
Air Canada responded with a letter to Edmonton Airport:
Vanstone wrote: “We were specifically very disappointed with your comments reported in the Edmonton Journal, which promoted the Icelandair service at the expense of Air Canada’s LHR (Heathrow) service …. Frankly, we expect more from our partners.”
While they claim it’s not direct retaliation, they also decided to seasonally cut their nonstop flight between Edmonton and London before the Icelandair service even begins:
“Your recent announcement that Icelandair, with some financial and other support from YEG, will be commencing service between YEG and Reykjavik Airport (KEF) gave us cause to revisit our YEG international operations,” wrote Derek Vanstone, Air Canada’s vice-president of corporate strategy for industry and government affairs.
A spokeswoman said the airline made a “commercial decision” because the route has struggled with profitability during the winter months despite ongoing promotion. It did not mention Icelandair in its statement.
Vanstone wrote Air Canada will not immediately change its remaining summer service between Edmonton and London, but suggested the airline wants unspecified concessions to continue the service and notes that it will begin talks with other airports for the London-Heathrow service.
“We will be looking for a proposal from the Edmonton Regional Airport Authority that will ensure that our YEG-LHR operation can remain viable as a year-round service. This is not a decision that we are taking lightly, but it is one that reflects our profound disappointment in the manner in which this has been handled.”
Anyway, I found the story pretty interesting because I see both sides here. If I were Air Canada I wouldn’t be excited about Icelandair starting service to Edmonton Airport, given that it’s not a huge market and they will more or less be competing directly. At the same time you can’t blame Edmonton Airport for wanting to increase their business, and I don’t think Edmonton Airport was attacking Air Canada as much as the horrible airport which is London Heathrow (which is a perfectly valid criticism).
What do you guys think, eh?
(Tip of the hat to @EricGooden)