Air Canada will add a third Australian destination to its international network from December when it begins seasonal nonstop flights between Vancouver and Melbourne.
The Star Alliance member said on Wednesday (Canada time) it planned to serve Melbourne four times a week during the summer holiday period between December 2017 and February 2018 with Boeing 787-9 equipment.
Currently, Air Canada flies daily from Vancouver to Sydney with Boeing 777-200LRs, with the airline sometimes using 777-300ER equipment during peak periods. The airline started daily service on the Brisbane-Vancouver route with 787s in June.
While Qantas has operated seasonal flights between Sydney and Vancouver with 747-400s since January 2015, Air Canada is the only airline offering year-round nonstop flights from Australia to Canada.
“Our seasonal Melbourne service will provide additional options for business travellers between North America and Australia as well as Australians seeking a Canadian winter vacation experience,” Air Canada president for passenger airlines Benjamin Smith said in a statement.
The Melbourne-Vancouver flights have been scheduled for December 1 2017 to February 4 2018.
Air Canada general manager for Australia and New Zealand Paul McLean said the decision to mount flights to Melbourne represented a “major vote of confidence” in the Australian market.
“Australian travellers are continuing to embrace Canada as a year-round destination, while Vancouver is now well established as a friendly and convenient gateway to North America,” McLean said in a statement.
“By operating the only non-stop service between Melbourne and Canada we are making it easier than ever before for Victorians to experience Canada’s unsurpassed winter attractions, which include some of the world’s leading ski resorts in British Columbia and Alberta.”
McLean said onward connections from Vancouver to cities such as New York or Las Vegas had proved very popular on Air Canada’s Brisbane and Sydney services.
Air Canada’s 787-9s used on international routes are configured with 298 seats comprised of 30 in business, 21 in premium economy and 247 in economy.
In December 2016, Virgin Australia and Air Canada announced a codeshare partnership.
Under the agreement, Virgin will place its VA airline code on Air Canada’s flights from Los Angeles to four Canadian cities – Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The Australian carrier also planned to codeshare on Air Canada’s nonstop flights from Australia to Canada.
However, a check of the Virgin website on Thursday showed the codeshare was yet to be implemented, with dummy bookings for flights from Sydney to Vancouver offering connections on Virgin alliance partner Delta Air Lines’ flights from Los Angeles.
Also, Air Canada planned to codeshare on Virgin Australia flights from Sydney and Brisbane to 10 destinations across Australia and New Zealand, including Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.
The two carriers would also offer reciprocal frequent flyer benefits.
Melbourne was one of six new routes Air Canada announced on Wednesday, with the airline and its low-cost unit Air Canada Rouge set to add seasonal Toronto-Belize City, Toronto-St Vincent, Montreal-Lima, Montreal-Pheonix and Vancouver-Orlando flights starting in December 2017.
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