Air Canada

Low-cost competition for YVR?

How little would you pay to fly from Vancouver to Asia?

Right now, it’s a small fortune, but hope is on the horizon for budget-conscious travellers.

Both Air Canada and Air Transat have let word slip, in recent days, that the future seems rosier across the Pacific. And both are considering capitalizing by launching low-cost operations out of Vancouver.

Both airlines are heavily focused on flying to Europe, but with the continent rocked by economic turmoil, demand is slipping.

So, much as Canadian Airlines International did before its demise, both carriers are looking to the Far East for profitability.

Low cost operations have a checkered history across the Pacific (they’ve been more successful across the Atlantic). The last attempt, by Oasis Airlines, failed in 2008 after a brief stint flying between Vancouver and Hong Kong.

Air Canada calls YVR an “underperforming” market. Air Transat is looking to make up for a four per cent fall in trans-Atlantic travel.

Both have the airplanes capable of flying Pacific routes.

Air Canada has yet to lay out firm plans for its operations, but the airline is expecting 37 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners over the next few years, which would conceivably free up a fleet of 767s capable of flying to China’s east coast.

Air Transat would be able to deploy Airbus A330s to the Pacific, although the CEO points out his company is not an airline, instead focusing on holiday sales, including airfare, hotel and excursions.