Air Canada (IATA Airline Code – AC) announced today that it will begin new service to India starting November 2015 four times a week. The Canadian national airline last flew directly to India back in May 1, 2007.
Air Canada flew to India using Airbus A340-500 and Boeing 767-300 previously to New Delhi (IATA Airport Code – DEL). However, the direct flights did not meet performance goals and were replaced with a one stop flight through Brussels (BRU) in partnership with Jet Airways (9W).
This time around, Air Canada will be using the new Boeing 787-8 and -9 aircrafts which feature better ergonomics and fuel economy. While the airline has not published the seatmap for this new variant, it will feature the latest international business, premium economy and economy products.
Given its 787-8 aircraft has 251 seats (which is very close to the recommended 3 class configuration – seatmap), expect the new variant to have close to 290 seats with most of the additional seats located in the economy section.
Update on December 10, 2014: shortly after we contacted Air Canada on twitter regarding this variant, the airline published the new seatmap for the 787-9 which will feature 298 seats (30 in Business, 21 in Premium Economy and 247 in Economy class)
The following infographic illustrates the current configuration of Air Canada’s 787-8 to be deployed to the New Delhi and Dubai service.
Below is a video showcasing Air Canada’s 787 product:
Air Canada is using the new 787s as part of its an international expansion plan. It is currently service 7 routes using this aircraft with another 5 to come.
The 787s have received mixed reviews from passengers. There is improvement made across all classes of service (including a bigger screen for entertainment, more seat recline and larger windows) but some felt that the streamline seats used in economy class were not as comfortable as ones previously used by AC. Passengers seating in Premium Economy or Business Class were treated with better accommodations.
Additionally, the direct flight will be significantly reduce the time required to connect these two countries together which will make the journey more enjoyable.
Many Indian nationals may not have the appropriate visas to enter various connecting countries. This direct flight would eliminate / reduce the burden on getting additional travel documentation.
New Delhi is one of Air India’s hubs and this flight will provide ample connections the next day after arrival. Both departure times from Toronto and New Delhi maximize passenger loads and connection opportunities for Air Canada.
The 787 program opens new opportunities for Air Canada. The 787-8 and -9 variants can fly up to 7,800nm and 8350nm respectively while burning less fuel for a passenger count of 250-300 passengers. This would be useful.
Routes such as Vancouver (YVR) to Melbourne (MEL), Bangkok (BKK), Singapore (SIN) and Toronto (YYZ) to Dubai (DXB), Mumbai (BOM) may now be achievable.
From a competitive standpoint, the new AC 787-9 variant should compare favorably with other airlines who have received this aircraft.
Expect fellow Star Alliance members like United Airlines, All Nippon Airways and EVA Airways to enter into a codeshare arrangement on this route with Air Canada.
Other competing airlines will likely reduce price to attract passengers to flyer the one stop option.
Update – December 7, 2014
Air Canada continues to introduce new destinations to its route map. As predicted by Experience The Skies just three days earlier, AC announced today that it will introduce non-stop flights from Toronto to Dubai starting November 3, 2015 using the Boeing 787-8/9 aircrafts discussed above. Where to next?
Currently, the only competition from YYZ to DXB is from Emirates (EK) on board their Airbus A380-800 double decker operating three times a week. Air Canada will match the same frequency to start and might expand if there is demand.
Passengers – Timing of the flights are great for connections in Toronto to Canada, Caribbean, US and South America upon arrival. With new competition, expect initial pricing pressure to drive fares down to the 850-900 $US range if booked immediately (at time of posting).
Other Star Alliances members – UA and some Asian partners might benefit from codesharing if they do not operate to Dubai currently.
Airlines which use to provide one stop connection from Europe to Dubai will face additional competition from increased capacity and non-stop nature of this flight.
Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines who used to get the Star Alliance passengers with one stop connection in Germany and Turkey to Toronto might see their share decrease.
July 20, 2015 Update
Due to good advance booking, Air Canada announced that it will expand its Toronto to New Delhi service from four times a week to daily starting in October 2016 with a Boeing 787-9.
(This post was published on December 4, 2014 with updates on December 7, 2014 and July 20, 2015.)