Air Canada’s Big International Expansion: Mumbai, Nagoya, Taipei, And More!

Air Canada has been growing nicely lately, especially in terms of longhaul destinations. This is thanks to a couple of factors:

  • Air Canada has taken delivery of 21 Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft, which open up a lot of markets that weren’t previously practical
  • Air Canada has expanded their low cost Rouge division, which has opened up a lot of new international leisure markets that weren’t previously practical

Air-Canada-787

With that in mind, Air Canada has just announced some impressive international expansion.

air-canada-expansion

Air Canada mainline expansion

Air Canada has announced three new mainline routes, including the following:

  • Effective February 16, 2017: Montreal to Shanghai daily Boeing 787-8 flight
  • Effective June 8, 2017: Vancouver to Taipei daily Boeing 787-9 flight
  • Effective July 1, 2017: Toronto to Mumbai 3x weekly Boeing 787-9 flight

Those are some awesome new destinations. Air Canada already serves Shanghai out of Toronto and Vancouver, so this represents their third route to Shanghai.

Grand-Hyatt-Shanghai - 46

Taipei is a destination that Air Canada served until 2002, so this is the first time they’re operating the route in ~15 years.

Mumbai is a destination Air Canada served until 1991, so it has been a long time since they’ve operated the route. It’s great to see how much Air Canada is expanding to India. In late 2015 they launched 4x weekly flights between Toronto and Delhi. As of next month the Toronto to Delhi flight will be operated daily, and Air Canada is also adding 4x weekly flights between Vancouver and Delhi. Now we’re seeing them expand to Mumbai. Going from no India routes to 13x weekly frequencies in less than two years is incredible.

Air Canada Rouge expansion

On top of the mainline expansion, Air Canada’s low cost Rouge devision will also be adding some interesting new destinations.

Air Canada Rouge aircraft arrives in Toronto Pearson Airport on June 5, 2013

These include the following:

  • Effective June 1, 2017: Toronto to Berlin 4x weekly Boeing 767-300 flight
  • Effective June 1, 2017: Vancouver to Nagoya 3x Boeing 767-300 flight
  • Effective June 9, 2017: Montreal to Marseille 3x weekly Boeing 767-300 flight
  • Effective June 26, 2017: Montreal to Algiers 4x weekly Boeing 767-300 flight

As a reminder, the longhaul Rouge fleet consists of 19 Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which each feature 282 seats. That includes 24 premium seats, and then 258 economy seats. The premium seats are basically what you’d get on a domestic flight in first class, including enhanced food and lounge access.

premium-rouge

What impresses me about Air Canada Rouge is that the airline has actually used the longhaul part of the fleet to start service to destinations they’d never operate with a mainline aircraft. So this has led to some really cool new destinations. As you can see above, next year we’ll see flights to Algiers, Berlin, Marseille, and Nagoya, while we’ve also seen seasonal routes to Budapest, Casablanca, Prague, Warsaw, etc.

Bottom line

It’s impressive to see how much Air Canada has grown their longhaul route network over the past couple of years, and that growth is continuing with these announcements. Usually we see an airline announce one or two routes at a time, so getting this many route announcements at once is something we haven’t seen from a North American airline in quite a while.

What do you make of Air Canada’s new longhaul routes?

Comments

  1. Of course you’re impressed with Rouge, you’ve never sat in their 28″ pitch Y seats. Hard pass, friends don’t let friends fly Rouge.

  2. Rouge is only low(er) cost for Air Canada – they pay Rouge pilots & flight attendants less than their mainline counterparts. The airfare though is hardly different from the mainline – you pay full price for a substandard product. No wonder it’s been known as Air Canada *Rogue* on FlyerTalk since it was rolled out.

  3. division is how it’s spelled, not devision.

    either way, these are great adds. And frankly, if Rouge is allowing AC to fly places they wouldn’t have otherwise, I am all for it.

  4. You conveniently leave out that their goverment has buckled down on the unfairly subsidized gulf carriers. US carriers would love to fly to India again but it’s just not viable with your beloved Qatari and Emirati carriers. Hope you enjoy those A380 suites to concrete jungles no one wants to visit.

  5. That article is about overall airfare not so much taxes and fees. I don’t think Canada as a country has comparability high taxes and fees. They just have very little competition, especially for domestic service.

  6. You missed that Canadian goverment hasn’t allowed those bottom feeders to come in an anti-competive manner. I’m well aware about UAs service to India, guess that’s news to you. AA and DL have pulled out due to subsidized gulf carriers.

    Maybe you get it now. Go along and suck up more maybe we will see a glowing UA BF trip report for your newfound EWR-BOM.

  7. I’m excited for the new Montreal-Shanghai route! After Air China’s Bejing route, it’s the second direct link to Asia from Montreal! Will we see more? I sure hope so!

    On another note, there are so many negative comments out there about Air Canada Rouge. Everyone seem to expect the same level of service / the same seat comfort than on Air Canada mainline. While it’s true that the pitch is not good (29 inches on their A319s and A321s and 30 inches on their 767), and that the fares sometimes don’t necessarily appear lower than what we would see on a mainline route, if they still manage to fill out the planes, why would they change something? I’m all for it if it means new destinations that we wouldn’t otherwise see!

  8. @ Josh G — To clarify, American cut their flight between Chicago and Delhi in 2012 because of the Gulf carriers, and not because oil was $100+ per barrel and turning a profit on a 15+ hour flight is nearly impossible with those conditions? Fascinating alternative universe you live in!

  9. @Josh G / lucky – I think there are points on both sides here.

    1. AC has an easier time launching routes to India because there is less competition from EY/EK/QR/TK.

    2. Canada has a smaller overall market but Canadians travel internationally a lot more per capita (as do most people in other developed countries) than Americans do. So on a per capita basis, there are more international flights from Canada than from the US.

    3. AA canceled ORD-DEL because of an overly premium config on the old pmAA 777-200s coupled with high priced fuel. AA has a glaring hole in not offering service to DEL or BOM. AA is at least showing some creativity launching ORD – BCN but time to not try to route everyone through LHR.

  10. It would be interesting how much cheaper these new routes will be considering they are operated under the Rouge banner. For example, YVR-TPE is already operated by BR and CI and they offer premium service in J (flat beds, amenities, better service, etc). Will they offer the same experience?

  11. Important point is that AC has introduced these new routes to India on the 787-9.

    Apart from any subsidies that they may or may not have, the gulf airlines have the big advantage of geography. The US3 would love to serve India- given distance, aircraft type, fuel costs, they have not been able to serve it economically – at least historically. India is also a very price conscious market.

    Finally, UA flights sell at a premium on their EWR-DEL/BOM routes even in their shitty coach and there is NEVER award availability on the non-stops.

  12. MAOR Asian routes from YVR! Amazing to see that the national carrier of Canada runs a grand total of ONE year round route and ONE seasonal route to Europe from Canada’s third largest city!

  13. @ Flying High
    I think from/to Berlin there are already longhaul flights to Beijing, Doha and a lot of north american cities.

  14. delighted the first comment (from @Stannis) was about the grim seating on AC Rouge.

    i did seven hours across the Atlantic a few months ago (connecting to a shorter flight) … and swore i would try avoid them if it all possible !

  15. @Luke H: Just out of curiosity I ran some Expedia searches, and found that airfare out of Canada to Asia is actually dirt cheap, and fares to Europe are also not more expensive than comparable routes in other regions.

  16. @claus some stupid ppl don’t know that you cannot buy AC tickets direct from AC I’ve never seen them have fares at same or lower rates than Expedia or travelcuts it is very odd.

  17. Air Canada Rouge is terrible in Y. Bearable in J. But not necessarily a good value.

    The competition, WestJet (I call it East Jet because their fares in the east are much lower than in the west), just purchased some 767’s and their service is even more of a joke. On a 10 hour flight from Vancouver to London you must PURCHASE food and beverage. Incredible! Even AC does better than that!

    So we always fly out of either Seattle or LAX/SFO to anywhere in the world whenever possible. In October we fly to Valencia using Aeroplan with AC to YYZ and then Turkish Airlines the rest of the way. This way we do not pay any of AC’s OUTRAGEOUS YQ surcharges.

    Unfortunately many of AC’s Canadian routes to smaller communities (Like my YLW Kelowna for example) have had the regular AC flights replaced with ROUGE aircraft. No way will I fly those routes. Nor will I fly the rip-off Eastjet flights as well. Leaves Alaska or road trip to SEA to connect to something reasonable.

    So the new routes mean nothing to me. Too much YQ. Too poor value.

  18. Lucky – please use your influence to clean up Aeroplan. Questions unanswered on web site require a minimum of 45 minutes hold time to reach a contracted person.
    International award seats are never available on their own airline unless at MARKET FARE levels. We might see FIXED MILEAGE seats available for 3-stop itins on UA, Turkish and Lufthansa. Of course LH is often available with their British Air-esque heavy tax. I regret moving my AMEX Plat points to Aeroplan.

  19. Fly on AC between YYZ and DEL frequently. Some excellent fares for biz between USD2500 and USD3000. Glad to see expansion to BOM. Not surprising given the immense Indian diaspora in the major metropolitan and the influx of highly skilled workers/students to Canada given their more liberal labor and immigration laws.

  20. Was talking with a Beijing-based friend of mine from Montreal, who was saying that apparently most of the passengers on Air China’s PEK-YUL flight are Chinese tour groups continuing on to Cuba on Air China’s YUL-HAV tag flight! Will be interesting to see if the case is the same for the passengers on Air Canada’s PVG-YUL flight.

  21. Canada is a socialist country dominated by big government that piles on the taxes so heavily on everything that your flight cost breakdown consumes two pages of printer paper. There’s no such thing as “low cost” in Canada, on air travel or anything else. I know this because I live there. And as for Air Canada Rouge, I’ve always avoided it on the advice of friends who have all said “never again” after only one experience.

  22. @PeteyNice: YYZ is in the top 5 of the most expensive airports in the world for airlines. That said, virtually no competition keeps their fares high. It’s pretty bad when it’s the same price to fly YYZ-YOW or YYZ to YVR!

    @DavidP: CORRECT! Lol

    @yyc: YVR-TPE is under mainline banner, not Rogue.

    For those you have never sat in Economy on a Rouge plane, I double-dog dare you to try and do it without crying or whining, and you can’t have a chiropractor meet you when you land! ☺

  23. @Felix, thanks for the clarification. I was focusing too much on Rouge and missed where it says “mainline”.

    In fairness, Rouge isn’t bad for short-hauls…anything under 4 hours is ok with me. I have AC lounge access and Priority Pass, so I just go to the lounge first, get fed, before I head to the gate.

  24. I have found (from the east coast) that AC sux. The few times I used them they tried to bump me with zero compensation, aye. When I was trying to get home from the Olympics in Calgary on a ticket bought nine months in advance, they said “well, a lot of people are trying to get from Calgary to Toronto, aye, so we bumped you, aye, without compensation, aye”. I said I understand, aye, that’s why I bought the tickets nine months in advance, aye. “oh, aye, then I guess it’s ok, aye”. Another time going to Europe in F class they tried to bump us for nothing. I blew a f%^&ing gasket. Never, ever, never, ever again. It seems that they try to screw non Canadian citizens to the benefit of Canadian fliers. F&*% AC. And just FYI, I have a lot of Canadian relatives. I NEVER fly AC to see them.

  25. Being of Marathi descent, I still find a BOM non-stop surprising. I was thinking AC’s next India flight would be to another North Indian city (Amritsar) or to Hyderabad, both of whose regions (Punjab, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana) have significant populations in USA.

    But besides that, AC has been successful, so such a flight may work out. After all, many 2nd-tier cities in USA not served by British/Lufthansa/M3 would have a 2-stop ride to 2 Indian cities.

    Point to ponder though: back when AI operated JFK to BOM with the 772L (a much more powerful aircraft than 789) they had trouble taking off such a heavy plane from BOM’s short runways. So it would be interesting if AC limits the load on the 789 for such a flight.

  26. @Otnorot – both runways at BOM have been upgraded to Code F classification and are designed to accept commercial aircraft such as the A380. There are no difficulties in accommodating the thrust and pressures associated with larger aircraft now.

  27. I will personally avoid any long-haul flight by Air Canada Rouge as much as possible. Flew with them from Honolulu to Vancouver in May, and it wasn’t a very comfortable ride. The seat is basically something you see on domestic first class in the states, or even with narrower legroom, not ideal to sleep on a 6-hour red-eye flight at all. The food and service was decent enough and the crew were all very charming. But the plane itself is…well…I’ll say they don’t even have a closet in business class for jacket and stuffs…alrighty then… I’ve been on another flight from Havana to Toronto with them in September in economy, the legroom is as same as UA’s 737, not very comfortable but still, it was like a 3-hour flight, so nothing bothered me that much….But I m dying to try AC’s YUL-PVG flight for sure, given they have much preferred reverse herringbone seat than CA’s A/E Diamond seat…

  28. Great article. not sure why people are such bitches and trolls over your post.
    i liked that you clarified the business seating. that is my number one need to know before i fly international. it is a pain going over each airline’s bookings to find out what their configuration is.
    Do you know if Air Canada is planning any Calgary to Asia flights? I see a Chinese airline has a Dreamliner going between PEK and YYC. I will likely use that for future china travels.
    Westjet is also looking at getting into the game.

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