COVID-19: Where Does Air Canada Stand?

Air Canada, Canada’s flag carrier has been having unprecedented success even while being hit hard over the last couple years. First, there was the mess with Boeing’s 737MAX. This left some old aircraft headed for retirement staying on. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Before, the sky was the limit. Now, most international flights have ended. Flights to the USA were suspended. Domestic cuts are drastic. The list is endless. Just ask the many employees that are now out of jobs.

Where do they stand?

Unfortunately, this is the reality of 2020. It got ugly and it got ugly quick. For some airlines such as Virgin Atlantic , surviving this pandemic is not how but if. Air Canada is in a much better position, however. The airline is poised to come out of this relatively unscathed. (Note the word relative there!) Stock markets have been high on the airline. As North America’s top airline as rated by Skytrax, and now a 4-star airline, things are looking good on the other end for Air Canada. But the same cannot be said for other airlines. (Looking at you, South African Airways.)

Changes coming to Air Canada

Big changes were announced prior to the pandemic. Firstly, the launch of the Airbus A220 neè Bombardier C-Series had just entered into service. This was going to open big possibilities for the airline. Flights such as Montreal to Seattle had been announced and Vancouver to Washington DC among other routes was on the table. But, most airlines have been candid in admitting it may take a while for air travel to recover. This sadly means that there will likely be route cuts when this is all over. (Sacramento, we’re sorry that you were also a victim of the 2008 financial crisis and now likely this.) However, with A220s still scheduled to enter service, this is positive for flight renewal and we can finally say good bye to 20+ year old A319s.

New luxury products were on the come up for Air Canada. In fact, just days before the world came to a seeming halt, the airline had just opened its second Signature Suite at Vancouver International Airport. A stunning lounge designed with posh in mind, Signature Suites more closely resemble Michelin Starred restaurants than airport dining. It is yet to be seen if the pandemic will affect the expected new lounge in Montreal.

On top of all of this, Air Canada is preparing to merge Aeroplan and Altitude into one program. This is no easy task. A complete overhaul of the frequent flyer program for an airline as large as Air Canada was always going to be a large undertaking. This pandemic could lead to a delay in the launch of the new program but that remains to be seen if true. 

Outlook

Of course, NomadMiler understands that the world has bigger problems right now than nitpicking the aviation industry. However, like many other industries, the fallouts from the pandemic will be ginormous. Luckily for Air Canada, they have the backing of the federal government, as well as private investors. Furthermore, the airline is sitting on top of the world and is recording record revenue and passenger numbers. This will inevitably fall but as a flag carrier, and one of the world’s largest and most recognized airline, the fallout will be smaller. This is not to say there will not be changes coming. There likely will as a result of a recuperating economy. But, Air Canada can look at its fleet renewal program, positive trends, and rising passenger numbers as measures for what to expect when things return to normal. 

Times were tough once for Air Canada when they went into bankruptcy protection. However, the airline has risen once before and we strongly believe the airline has what it takes to become an aviation leader when all of this is over. Hopefully, for the aviation industry’s sake, other travelers believe this as well. 

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