Air Canada redeploys Q400 capacity in summer schedule

An Air Canada 737MAX8 prepares for takeoff while a 777 lands at Vancouver International Airport. The summer 2019 schedule sees Air Canada reinforce its hub at Vancouver.

No earth-shaking moves, but plenty of capacity shifts as Air Canada redeploys aircraft to meet summer travel needs, solidifying its Vancouver hub in the process. In the East, that means flights being shifted to Air Canada Rouge, and in the West, small commuter aircraft are out, and larger Dash 8-Q400s are in.

Canada’s largest airline revealed its summer plans Thursday, including large capacity increases on seven routes from Vancouver and two routes from Calgary, all as a result of the use of 78-seat Q400 aircraft.

“The ultra-quiet, comfortable, fuel efficient and faster Q-400 aircraft will be well received by our customers and is larger than the regional aircraft it is replacing. We are pleased to deploy it to more communities in Western Canada as we further strengthen our regional network to optimize all significant connections between our extensive regional and global markets,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning at Air Canada.

The Q400s are being redeployed from Eastern Canada, where several routes will be transferred to larger Airbus jets operated by Air Canada Rouge, including Montreal-St. John’s, Toronto-Moncton, Toronto-Fredericton and Toronto-Thunder Bay.

Vancouver International Airport will see major increases on flights within British Columbia as a result of Air Canada’s summer schedule.

The moves increase capacity at Air Canada’s Vancouver hub on routes within British Columbia to Prince Rupert, Smithers, Kamloops, Penticton, Nanaimo, Comox and Sandspit. Vancouver will also see a second daily flight to Anchorage, almost doubling capacity on the route.

The following table shows Air Canada Q400 flights out of Vancouver International Airport to various cities in British Columbia for the summer (source: Air Canada)
Route Frequencies Capacity
Vancouver-Nanaimo 7 daily546 daily seats, 14% increase
Vancouver-Comox 4 daily312 daily seats, 23% increase
Vancouver-Sandspit 2 daily156 daily seats, 52% increase
Vancouver-Prince Rupert 2 daily156 daily seats, 5% increase
Vancouver-Smithers 2 daily156 daily seats, 14% increase
Vancouver-Kamloops 4 daily312 daily seats, 25% increase
Vancouver-Penticton 3 daily234 daily seats, 17% increase

Another result of the shift will be that Calgary loses non-stop service to Cranbrook, and frequencies will be cut to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, but operated by larger aircraft. The overall effect will be to reduce the number of flights out of Calgary, though with larger aircraft flying, there is little effect on overall capacity.

Air Canada also announced a handful of changes on routes to the United States from hubs in Toronto and Montreal, including larger aircraft to Nashville, Washington-Dulles and Memphis, a new flight between Montreal and Raleigh, North Carolina, and additional daily flights to other cities.

The move comes as a result of a major shift in Air Canada’s regional airline alliance.

Air Canada signed a new long-term agreement with Jazz’s parent company giving Chorus Aviation the first right of refusal on regional contracts. That means Air Georgian, with its fleet of smaller Beechcraft planes based in Calgary, is out. As part of the agreement, Jazz also takes control of all CRJ aircraft under the Air Canada banner, including those that were formerly operated out of Toronto by Air Georgian.

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7 Comments

    1. I agree, it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I’m thinking doing a story just on Calgary to see the shifts happening there. For sure today for AC was really about growth at Vancouver.

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