Air China and Air Canada sign first China-North America airline joint venture

June 11, 2018
Written by Wings Staff
Air Canada’s Craig Landry, senior VP, revenue optimization, and Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO, with Air China’s Jianjiang Cai, chairman, and Zhiyong Song, president. (Photo CNW Group/Air Canada)

Air Canada’s Craig Landry, senior VP, revenue optimization, and Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO, with Air China’s Jianjiang Cai, chairman, and Zhiyong Song, president. (Photo CNW Group/Air Canada)

At a ceremony in Beijing on June 6, Air China and Air Canada signed the first joint venture agreement between a Chinese and North American airline, deepening the two carriers’ existing partnership. The joint venture will be phased in over the course of the next six months.

The joint venture enables the two countries’ flag carriers and Star Alliance members to expand their existing codeshare relationship by increasing commercial cooperation on flights between Canada and China, and on key connecting domestic flights in both countries.

“The Sino-Canada market is one of the important long-haul markets to Air China, which has been developed rapidly in recent years with an increase of 17.8 per cent in 2017,” said Jianjiang Cai of Air China. He continued to explain the joint venture will provide a wider range of products and services, more flexible flight choices, and favourable fares. “Moreover, both parties will take the China-Canada Year of Tourism as an opportunity to support the tourism, trade and culture exchanges for both countries.”

The carriers’ recently expanded code-share, effective May 5, 2018, increases the number of Canada-China connecting flight opportunities for customers by 564 each day.  In December 2017, Air China and Air Canada implemented an expanded reciprocal lounge agreement for customers and introduced the airlines’ first joint frequent flyer promotion for their respective PhoenixMiles and Aeroplan members.



"Our joint venture [with Air China] is an important strategy in our global expansion as it significantly increases Air Canada's presence in an aviation market set to become the world's largest by 2022,” said Calin Rovinescu of Air Canada, which has served China for more than 30 years. “As demonstrated by Air Canada's average annual capacity growth of 12.5 per cent over five years and the $2 billion of aircraft assets currently committed on routes between Canada and China, China is an integral part of our global network.”

In the last two years, Air China has launched flights directly linking Beijing with Montreal, and Air Canada has launched new non-stop flights between Montreal and Shanghai to meet growth in demand. The two carriers now operate up to a total of 52 trans-Pacific flights per week between Canada and China from Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to and from Beijing and Shanghai.

As of December 31, 2017, Air China operated a fleet of 655 aircraft with an average age of 6.53 years. Passenger traffic routes have reached 420, including 101 international, 16 regional and 303 domestic routes.

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