Air Canada competition heats up on two fronts...British Airways strike likely?
Looks like one of those tag-team matches in wrestling.
Not only is Virgin America reaching into Air Canada's market by announcing its intent to fly to Toronto from San Francisco and Los Angeles (and vice versa), but Porter Airlines say it will soon offer more flights between Toronto and Montreal than Air Canada.
I outlined yesterday how, Virgin America, the American affiliate of Sir Richard Branson's U.K.-based carrier, wants to fly the LA-SF-Toronto route starting June 23 .There's talk that Branson will fly in for the occasion, which should generate some pretty decent appetizers and maybe a glass of bubbly should anyone wish to invite me.
There's also some rumours that WestJet, which flies to California from Vancouver and Calgary, might wish to join the Toronto-California action with some sort of code share with Virgin America.
"We think it's a market that can use a little more capacity," David Cush, Virgin America's chief executive, told the National Post. "We're being conservative with only one flight a day going in from each place."
According to the Post story, "Mr. Cush said he would consider striking a code-share agreement with WestJet now that the Calgary-based airline has its new reservation system in place. He and WestJet's incoming chief executive, Gregg Saretsky, worked closely on a similar arrangement when Mr. Cush worked at American and Mr. Saretsky worked at Alaska Airlines. The deal would essentially allow WestJet to seamlessly move its passengers onto Virgin's planes, and vice versa, using only one ticket."
Cush, however, said there have been talks and that any such sharing deal would take a few years.Air Canada says it welcomes the competition. I kinda doubt it, but what else are they gonna say? I mean, shareholders wouldn't like it much if their p.r. people called the Star and said, "Holy crap, Virgin's coming and they've got mood lighting and little pads in the back of their seats that let people order food and we don't have those and we're gonna lose passengers."
Anyway, the competition also heated up for AC when Porter Airlines said it will dramatically boost service in the Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa triangle. Porter said it will hike its flights from Toronto to Montreal from 14 to 23; one more than Air Canada. It plans to increase Toronto-Ottawa flights to 19, two more than they have now, as of May 5. Air Canada has 18 daily flights from Toronto to Ottawa.
On a related Air Canada item, it seems the folks at Aeroplan are starting a new campaign. The Globe and Mail reports it's a campaign worth more than $2 million and will be fairly basic as these things go.
“We put more people in more reward seats than any other Canadian loyalty program,” one ad says. “We give you more flexibility than any other Canadian loyalty program,” reads another, while a third reads: “26 Star Alliance airlines means more ways to get outta town," the Globe reported.BRITISH AIRWAYS STRIKE?
Oops. I was saying the other day how it's a good time to visit Britain because of the falling pound. But then comes word today that British Airways and its union have failed to reach a contract settlement and that workers are slated to go on strike at midnight Friday.Mind you, that's probably good news for Air Canada, who might pick up some BA business in the popular Toronto-London flight segment.
BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said it was “deeply regrettable” that the union declined to accept a proposal on pay and working conditions from the airline, adding that offer would be withdrawn once the strike begins. BA, which placed an advertisement in British newspapers reassuring customers it would do its best to minimize disruption, said it expects to operate around 65 per cent of its scheduled flights over the next three days.
A total of 1,100 flights out of the 1,950 flights scheduled to operate during the walkout will be cancelled, but the airline has leased planes and crew from rival carriers to take up some of the shortfall. At its Heathrow base, more than 60 per cent of long-haul flights will operate, but only 30 per cent of short-haul. At Gatwick, all long-haul flights and more than half short-haul flights will run as normal.