This week, Air Canada announced that it is resuming service on many routes that had been curtailed due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Beginning in March, and continuing into June, the airline will gradually resume service on 34 routes from Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.
Let’s have a look at some of the routes that were announced.
New Routes from Toronto
Air Canada’s largest hub is at Toronto Pearson International Airport. From here, the airline is resuming service on 14 routes crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Throughout March, direct flights from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Vienna, Athens, and Rome are scheduled.
The airline had maintained flights to some of these destinations from other Canadian cities (requiring a connection), or direct flights were available on other Star Alliance airlines, but these reinstatements give travellers more options to fly with Air Canada on direct routings.
In April, direct flights to Vienna and Tokyo will become available. While Japan has yet to announce a reopening plan for tourism, it’s nice to see an airline making some speculative bookings of its own in anticipation of high demand once Japan opens to tourists.
Direct flights to Copenhagen, Budapest, Barcelona, Madrid, Edinburgh, and Manchester are scheduled to resume throughout May. I was particularly excited to see flights to Budapest available, as it’s within close proximity to many countries to which I’d like to travel this year.
The sole route to resume in June is from Toronto to Reykjavik. What’s interesting about this route is that it is sold in only economy and premium economy cabins in a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
If you buy a premium economy fare, you’ll actually be seated in the business class cabin, which is the standard North American-style business class without a pod. Despite being over five hours in length and an overnight flight, there aren’t any lie-flat seats that could make the flight much more comfortable.
New Routes from Montreal
Air Canada’s home city and second-largest hub is in Montreal. Beginning in March and extending into June, a total of 14 routes are set to resume service.
While some of the routes are also offered from Toronto, Air Canada flies from Montreal to several unique destinations in North Africa and Europe.
In late March, direct flights to Rome, Lisbon, and Athens are due to resume operation. As popular travel destinations, it is likely that these routes will be in hot demand amongst leisure travellers from spring into the fall.
The sole route to relaunch in April is between Montreal and Venice.
In May, service to Tel Aviv, Cairo, Casablanca, Barcelona, Nice, and Milan resumes, while June will see Reykjavik, Dublin, Tokyo, and Algiers back on Air Canada’s departure board from Montreal.
New Routes from Vancouver
Air Canada’s westernmost hub, Vancouver, will see service resume to three European destinations over the spring months.
Flights to Frankfurt begin on May 1, while flights to Dublin and Zurich resume in June, offering Vancouverites new direct options for adopting the “Latitude Attitude” en route to Europe.
These routes will add to the only other currently scheduled direct flight from Vancouver to Europe, which is to London Heathrow.
In addition to international services, there are two additional North American routes that will begin operating from Vancouver this spring. The first is to Austin, Texas (four times per week) and the other is to Halifax (five times per week).
I’m interested in both of these routes, but the direct flight to Halifax is of particular interest.
Going from coast to coast has previously required connections in either Toronto or Montreal. This new route cuts down the travel time and removes any unfortunate circumstances, such as a missed connection due to a delayed flight.
The caveat is that it, too, is operated on a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which means that even in business class, it’ll be a rough sleep without a pod on the overnight flight.
The return schedule is much friendlier, departing in the morning and arriving at noon, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy beautiful Vancouver.
New Routes from Halifax
Here’s an interesting one for travellers based in Atlantic Canada. As of April 30, Air Canada will resume year-round service between Halifax and London.
This comes as a huge benefit to anyone who has become accustomed to lengthy connections through Toronto or Montreal, or via American hubs on the east coast, to get across the Atlantic.
Similar to the Reykjavik routes, the aircraft operated on this route is the two-cabin Boeing 737 MAX 8, so it’s very much about convenience over comfort.
At six hours on a daytime flight, there isn’t an option to fly with a lie-flat seat, as you would be able to on flights from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, or Montreal.
The convenience of not having to backtrack through Canada, and the daytime schedule for the flight, make the flight an affordable option for Haligonians and other East Coast residents travelling to London.
A Sign of Good Things to Come?
Since March 2020, the travel industry has been dealing with an incredible amount of uncertainty. Ever-changing border restrictions and reduced demand led airlines to cut a number of routes that had been established in previous years.
It’s a great sign to see airlines such as Air Canada rebuilding their networks after such a radical change from the status quo.
Some travellers aren’t keen to undergo multi-leg flights to get to their final destination, so having more direct flights to more destinations gives would-be travellers better certainty in their travel plans.
There’s always a chance that the global situation will require another rapid pivot, as we saw with Omicron spreading like wildfire over the winter months.
With more countries lifting restrictions and more passengers open to the idea of international travel, I’m optimistic that these changes won’t be fleeting and that we’ll be afforded with more options to get to where we want to go.
Air Canada recently announced a resumption of many of its previously-rescinded flights to Europe and Asia throughout the spring and summer of 2022.
These routes are another sign of the world shifting to welcome international travel again. Coupled with the eased re-entry requirements and the lifting of pandemic restrictions that we’ve seen in 2022 so far, it appears that we’ll soon be able to get to where we’d like to be without taking a number of connections.