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How Trudeau boosted Canada, and its airline

JON UNDERWOOD talks to Air Canada Global Sales Vice President DUNCAN BUREAU about its new Melbourne service, the Trudeau effect and the new Australasian destination on its radar.


With your new service to Melbourne underway, these are exciting times for Air Canada.

We are extremely excited about this [Melbourne] market – it’s the longest flight in our system now at 16 hours. From our perspective it represents more than a billion dollars of capital invested into Australia.

Our first foray into Melbourne is a seasonal operation, really to address the ski market. Our tourism boards and tourism partners in the ski industry are also extremely excited and have seen significant increases in their bookings.


Have you set yourself any targets for the new Melbourne service?

We’re very bullish on it and will operate a year round service from June. We are starting with a modified schedule but we want to get that to daily as quickly as possible. And a consistent daily product really allows us to address the business market.


Attracting business travellers is a key goal and it helps that your services into Australia are all aboard 787’s.

You take a 16 hour flight and you think you’re going to land exhausted but the fact is you are very comfortable. I arrived here and ended up doing interviews and working through the day. For the business traveller it really gives them a competitive advantage to arrive ready to go and do business.


For those who haven’t flown on your 787’s yet, what can they expect?

Our business class product is one of the best in the world. From a work space perspective, the pods are very comfortable. Everything is where it should be and there’s lots of storage space. We also have one of the best premium economy cabins in the sky and our economy section is competitive with any economy product in the world.


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How are your direct services into Sydney and Brisbane faring?

We are very pleased with both markets. We have been in Sydney a long time, it’s been an incredibly successful market and we have no intention of ever exciting this market and it’s a great link between Australia and Canada.


Is there any further expansion likely in Australasia?

New Zealand is on our radar, it’s a market that we really like and we’ll continue to evaluate if it makes sense for us, but there’s no lack of opportunities to deploy airplanes globally. The capability of the 787 allows us to think of markets that historically we just wouldn’t have been able to do from an economic perspective.


The links between Australia and Canada seem to be getting stronger every year.

If you ask any Canadian where they want to go on their bucket list then Australia would be there and I think it’s reciprocal. It doesn’t hurt that our Prime Minister has elevated Canada’s brand globally and we’re being rewarded for that. It’s a culture of inclusion and a very safe place and we have tremendous tourism assets from coast to coast.


Has the election of President Trump had any effect on traffic in and out of Canada?

I think Mr Trump will continue to impose his policies in terms of immigration but at this point we have a Prime Minister who is out there promoting Canada as a country of inclusion and acceptance and I think that has certainly helped Canada’s tourism numbers. It’s certainly made Air Canada’s brand that much stronger and we have a PM who is out there talking about how great a country Canada is and how welcoming we are.


So nothing but clear skies ahead for Air Canada.

We think we’ve got a great product. We are the only four-star airline operating out of North America and if people are looking for great value and one of the best products in the sky, I think Air Canada is a great choice.


Written by: DUNCAN BUREAU as told to JON UNDERWOOD
Published: 10 January 2018

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