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Airline Insider: March/April 2008

Industry news

March 28, 2008  By Brian Dunn

Air Canada Jazz will add numerous nonstop flights from Ottawa, starting May 1st.

Air Canada is expanding its Ottawa service, adding four new markets with nonstop flights and increasing the number of available seats by 19% over last summer. Starting May 1, Air Canada, through its regional affiliate Jazz, will add nonstop flights between Ottawa and Washington, DC, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay and Charlottetown. Other service to Calgary, Saskatoon and Toronto will also be increased this spring. Air Canada will also launch additional service between Calgary and Chicago, Toronto and Austin, Tex., and Toronto and Richmond, Va.

A strong interest in Italy has prompted Zoom to add direct flights to Rome.

Zoom Airlines is adding direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Rome, with two flights a week from Toronto starting May 3 and one flight a week from Montreal beginning May 6.

“Our customer research indicates a strong interest in Italy,” said Zoom CEO Kris Dolinki. “The addition of Rome is another step in establishing Zoom as a value-focused carrier for long-haul destinations.”

Ottawa-based Zoom already serves several destinations in Europe, including Belfast, Glasgow, London/Gatwick and Paris/de Gaulle. A UK subsidiary is based at Gatwick.

A year-round service from Toronto to Quebec City will mark WestJet’s 27th destination within Canada.

WestJet plans a May 18 launch of year-round service from Toronto to Quebec City, coinciding with Quebec’s 400th anniversary celebrations. The Boeing 737 carrier will fly daily nonstops on the route, which marks WestJet’s 27th destination within Canada.

WestJet is also enhancing its summer schedule to include new seasonal nonstop service on the Regina-Toronto, Saskatoon-Toronto and Abbotsford-Toronto routes as well as from Ottawa to Edmonton and Halifax.

Air Transat will add flights to Europe, starting in May.

At the end of May Air Transat will begin offering weekly departures from Montreal and Toronto to Basel/Mulhouse on the Swiss-French border, as well as a new service between Montreal and Dublin. The carrier will also add flights between Toronto and Brussels and a new weekly flight between Fredericton and London. From the west, two weekly flights will be offered between Vancouver and Paris, one nonstop and another via Calgary.

Service between Paris and Montreal and Toronto will see two more weekly flights for a total of nine from Montreal and five from Toronto. A third flight per week will be offered from Montreal to Nice, Athens and Barcelona, a second flight each week from Montreal to Bordeaux and an additional flight from Toronto to Barcelona and Athens.

Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines has received DOT clearance to fly between the US and Canada on behalf of Delta Air Lines.

The regional airline, which has long operated as a Northwest Airlink affiliate, recently launched Delta Connection service from Delta’s Atlanta hub with the first of 16 Bombardier 90-seat CRJ900 regional jets acquired by the US regional for its new 10-year feeder contract with Delta. The entire CRJ900 fleet will be placed into service by February 2009, and the contract could expand this to 23 aircraft or more.

Pinnacle will also inaugurate a number of new daily routes on May 2 on behalf of Northwest Airlines, including service between Northwest’s Minneapolis/St. Paul hub and Ottawa using 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s on all the new flights.

Porter’s expanded service into the US was made possible with the addition of two new 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops.

As expected, Porter Airlines has announced its first foray into the US market with new service between Toronto City Centre Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport starting March 31. The service will consist of seven weekday round-trips with two on Saturday and three on Sunday.

The expanded service was made possible with the addition of two new 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops, bringing the fleet to six with four more expected to be added within the next 12 months. Other planned services include Boston, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia. “We’re currently reviewing our summer schedule and we’ll probably increase service between Ottawa and Halifax,” said Porter spokesperson Brad Cicero. “We also expect to add two more aircraft by the end of summer and add service to Chicago and Boston.” Asked about Porter’s seasonal service to Mont Tremblant, Cicero said it was quite popular. “As a weekend winter destination, we’re happy with it,” although as a private carrier, he wouldn’t provide load factors.

United Airlines will begin service to Quebec City and Victoria on June 5. Daily United Express service between Chicago and Quebec City will be operated by regional partner Shuttle America using 70-seat Embraer 170 aircraft. Regional partner Skywest Airlines will operate as United Express between San Francisco and Victoria using 70-seat CRJ700s.

Jazz has added two Bombardier Dash 8-300 turboprops to its fleet.

Air Canada’s Jazz affiliate has added two Bombardier Dash 8-300 turboprops to its charter fleet. A Jazz spokeswoman said the aircraft are being leased. The two 50-seat turboprops will bring to four the number of aircraft in Jazz’s charter fleet. The carrier currently has two 37-seat Dash 8-100s dedicated to charters.

“Given our operating expertise, the expansion of our charter services with the addition of these two Dash 8-300 aircraft is a logical step in Jazz’s evolution as we seek to grow our business beyond our current capacity purchase agreement with Air Canada,” said Scott Tapson, Jazz VP, business development.

“This aircraft will be the perfect choice for clients looking to carry up to 50 passengers for sports groups, entertainers, corporate shuttle operations, or any customer who requires the flexibility and convenience that a private charter can provide,” added Shelley Wilson, Jazz manager, charter marketing and sales.

New provisions in Canada’s bilateral air transport accord with Mexico
provide greater market access options for airlines from both countries.
Pictured here is Canadian Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.

Canada has expanded its bilateral air transport accord with Mexico in a move that adds “more flexibility” to the long-standing agreement and could pave the way for further liberalization. Amendments to the accord were brokered after discussions between Canadian Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and Mexican Transportation Secretary Luis Tellez Kuenzler.

Effective immediately, the new provisions provide greater market access options for airlines from both countries for passenger, combination and all-cargo services. Specifically, they will allow “more Canadian carriers to provide more scheduled air service to Mexico, to a greater number of cities,” said a Transport Canada spokesman. In turn, if Mexican operators show interest in serving more Canadian cities “we’ll assess it in light of this agreement and the demand,” he added. Airlines are reviewing the amendments to determine what new air service initiatives may be introduced.

Meanwhile, delegations from both countries have agreed to meet again in 2009 to explore further areas of modernization and liberalization. This could lead to an open skies agreement between the two countries. For now, however, Canada is “pleased with the new arrangements,” said the Transport Canada spokesman.

Ethiopian Airlines is eyeing new services to Toronto, Kuwait, Riyadh and Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo, as it strives to increase its network to 60 cities by 2010. Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian serves 50 destinations, including 30 within Africa. It operates a fleet of 33 aircraft, including five Fokker 50s, six Boeing 737s, eight 757s and 10 767s. Ethiopian has long-held ambitions to serve Toronto. Late last year its operation was audited by four representatives from Transport Canada. “We expect the result of their survey in the near future. Internally it needs our schedule arrangement and externally we have to secure a permit to operate flight services to Toronto,” an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said.


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