Competition heating up again in Toronto with Air Canada, Porter, WestJet
Lots of other things overshadowing the airline situation in Canada, of course, what the federal election (don't forget to vote) and the death of Osama Bin Laden. Still, it's worth taking a second to consider all that's happening in our local market.
Porter has been expanding for some time and is now a huge force in the Toronto market with its island airport flights to Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Halifax and many other places. Air Canada finally got back into the Toronto airport biz on the weekend, with up to 15 flights a day between Toronto and Montreal on what they're calling Air Canada Express.
"Service between Toronto City Airport and Montreal will be operated by Sky Regional Airlines Inc." AIr Canada officials said in a weekend press release. "It will provide up to 15 daily non-stop return flights hourly between 07:30 and 21:30 from Toronto and between 6:45 and 20:45 from Montreal. Customers will enjoy the comfort of state-of-the-art Bombardier Q-400 aircraft with leather seats, complimentary premium bar service and snacks, as well as the ability to collect Aeroplan® Miles through Canada's leading loyalty program. In Toronto, a complimentary, regularly scheduled shuttle bus service is available between the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and the Toronto City Airport. Prior to boarding, customers can enjoy free lounge access complete with wi-fi and refreshments."
I don't think Express flight attendants will be able to match the hats and sartorial style of Porter, but it sounds pretty much like they've copied Bob Deluce's successful pattern, and why not?
Meanwhile, WestJet today (Monday) elbowed its way a little more into the Hogtown market with 10 flights each business day between Toronto and Montreal and nine flights each business day between Toronto and Ottawa.
"A new service promise, also starting May 2, will see guests travelling on these routes offered 50 per cent off their next Toronto-Montreal or Toronto-Ottawa flight if their aircraft is delayed by more than 30 minutes," the airline said in a press release. "If a guest's eastern triangle flight is cancelled and they cannot travel at the new time, they will receive full credit for the cost of their ticket plus 50 per cent off their next Toronto-Montreal or Toronto-Ottawa flight.
WestJet will also offer guests travelling these fights dedicated, easy-access departure gates at all three airports, priority security screening in Toronto and Montreal, and no extra fees for taking an earlier flight or missing their flight but arriving at the airport within two hours of their scheduled departure. Also included is a complimentary glass of wine or beer on board, 20 per cent off Toronto Pearson valet parking services and 25 per cent off Park'N Fly Airport Parking in all three cities. Full details are available at http://www.westjet.com/smartbusiness.
Also, guests who join WestJet's Frequent Guest Program will receive a bonus of $25 WestJet dollars for every three one-way flights flown in the triangle between May and August.
"This initiative is aimed at addressing the needs of our valued business travellers," said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Sales, Marketing and Guest Experience. "It shows that we take the needs of our business guests seriously, with a strong commitment to on-time performance, conveniences to make their arrival and departure easier, and rewards to recognize and thank them for choosing to fly with us. We believe these offerings are innovative and, when combined with our award-winning guest experience, position WestJet as a compelling choice for business travellers."
It'll be interesting now to see whether Air Canada can wrangle more landing and takeoff spots at the Island Airport. It's also worth noting that Air Canada is having difficulties with its plans for new rules for the vacation discount airlines. Today's Globe and Mail has a story on the latest.
It's good for the consumer to get these kinds of choices, of course. Personally, I'd prefer a drop in prices but I don't think that's going to happen. Last time I checked, Air Canada was asking for something like $1,500 for a summer flight from Toronto to London Heathrow. Yikes.