Execs from Air Canada Visit RI — Talk Direct Flights to Toronto and More
Thursday, April 12, 2018
In a visit to GoLocalProv’s newsroom, Ronald Kaercher -- Director, Regional Airlines and Markets for Air Canada said, “Our objective here -- with the May to October flight service to start -- is to make it sure that we can go year round. Then we look to add more service. We can get you the world from Toronto, and an ease of use compared to say a Chicago. [Toronto] is a wonderful hub. We’re the carrier to the ‘great white north’ but we can so so much more.”
The return of Air Canada to the Providence is possible due to three major factors; new leadership and growth for Air Canada, growing momentum at T.F. Green, and the congestion at Boston’s Logan Airport. Consumers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts are looking for an easier way to fly direct to key cities.
“So we’re back — not with a tired old prop, but with a 50 seat regional aircraft to Toronto in one hour and forty minutes in one direction. It's comfortable, convenient,” said Kaercher.
The addition of Air Canada at T.F. Green gives Rhode Islanders an alternative route to all of Canada and to Asia.
“Is Montreal a possibility? Toronto is our global hub — when it works well, we work well. Vancouver is Asia focused, and Montreal as a hub serves francophone markets — Lyon, Marseilles, Nice, North Africa. We have purpose-built hubs,” he added.
“As for flying out of Providence compared to Boston, in the last 5 years, there’s been an expansion in capacity between Boston and Toronto. We understand there needs to be a comparable price point between Boston and Providence. Our sales folks are hearing it as well,” he said.
“From our perspective — we need business and leisure. The challenge for us right now is the seasonal service — use it or lose it. We're really touting the stopover program. You can buy your ticket through — but stay and catch a Raptors game, take a day and stay and continue on your journey,” said Kaercher. The Toronto Raptors are the #1 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference and the Boston Celtics are the #2.
In addition, the Boston Bruins start a playoff series in the NHL playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We’re a different carrier than we were five years ago — we made money, lost money — after the last crash, we had a change in CEO and direction. There are a number of pillars [including] culture, costs, international footprint, which we’ve reflected with the introduction of Boeing 787 Dreamliners to extend our reach,” said Kaercher, a Montreal native.
Air Canada’s effort to upgrade its fleet is improving efficiency and passenger satisfaction.
“We’re in the process of going through a narrow body fleet renewal [with] B 737 Max 8 — those will replace older Airbus narrow bodies. In 2020 [we'll have] Bombardier C series 300 — we’ll take delivery of 45 — and then we’ll have one of the youngest fleets in the air,” said Kaercher.
"So that has lead to the ability to transform ourselves and grow. We’ve got internationally more than 120 new routes, and almost forty in the US. We now operate to 60 airports in the U.S., In contrast, we have 65 in Canada, so we’ve grown the footprint. We’re now a global carrier — we want to be a top 10 carrier in all that we do — we’ve got the change in culture. Our CEO talks about us as an 80-year-old startup. We’re currently the only North American carrier with a 4-star rating [on Skytrax] — we’re shooting for a 5," said Kaercher.
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