Air Canada extends Rouge domestic presence
Air Canada announced a major winter expansion of its Rouge discount brand on several routes in Atlantic Canada on routes that were previously served by regional aircraft.
Flights between Toronto and Saint John, New Brunswick will be transferred to Rouge from Air Canada Jazz, with Airbus A319 jets replacing smaller De Havilland Dash 8-Q400s on the route this summer. However, with a reduction in frequency from four flights a day to two, capacity will rise 16%.
“Air Canada has been a valued partner for many years,” said Saint John Airport President and Chief Executive Officer Derrick Stanford. “Their decision to enhance YSJ’s current offering with bigger aircraft will mean more capacity, business-class service and faster flight times to connection banks like Toronto, something our business passengers have come to depend on.
Other routes between Toronto and Atlantic Canada will be expanded to Rouge service year-round. Flights to Charlottetown, Moncton and Fredericton will make the switch this fall.
The Rouge redeployment is a continuation of a plan begun in the spring, when Air Canada shifted Q400s out of Atlantic Canada to the West Coast, to bolster regional routes out of its Vancouver hub.
“We are very pleased with Air Canada’s announcement today of Air Canada Rouge service in Charlottetown for Winter 2019/2020. These larger Air Canada Rouge jets will offer added capacity on the Charlottetown-Toronto route and is a direct response to demand in the PEI market in the winter time,” said Doug Newson, CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.
Air Canada has 22 A319 aircraft in Rouge livery, and the type is slowly phased out of the mainline fleet.
At the same time, Air Canada is adding a second daily flight from Halifax to Gander, Newfoundland, and extending daily mainline service between Halifax and Calgary to year-round, offering competition through the winter for Westjet’s long-established non-stop service.
Air Canada executives have indicated they would limit domestic growth for the foreseeable future, focusing instead on high-value overseas flights from their hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The shift to Rouge aircraft and crews is a way to lower costs and increase capacity without risking more mainline aircraft.
In Western Canada, Air Canada is continuing its growth strategy for the Q400, while removing smaller Dash-8s from the schedule, leading to sometimes massive increases in capacity this winter.
It will launch a new route between Terrace, British Columbia and Calgary, while boosting frequencies from the northwestern community to Vancouver. Most other routes provincial out of Vancouver are also seeing capacity boosts of between 20 and 56%, thanks to the upguaged aircraft.
It is also increasing capacity to Whitehorse by flying mainline Airbus A319 and 320 aircraft to the Yukon, as well as adding frequencies from Vancouver to both Regina and Saskatoon.
“With Air Canada’s varied and flexible fleet, this fall and winter, we are also pleased to add capacity on our Whitehorse, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg routes with larger Airbus A319/A320 and CRJ-900 aircraft. Customers on these services can take advantage of our Business Class and wi-fi options,” said Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning at Air Canada.
Finally, Air Canada is boosting capacity out of Edmonton on two routes, to Grande Prairie and Ft. McMurray with daily rotations to both cities flown on the Q400, boosting capacity by more than 50% to Northern Alberta.