Fly direct Delhi-Toronto from Nov 2
As Air Canada gets set for its nonstop Delhi-Toronto flight on November 2, Gary Cross, Senior Director, International Sales, Air Canada, says Mumbai is high on their wish list of destinations.
You’ve decided to start non-stop service to Delhi after 10 years. Previously you were operating the A340 and Boeing 767, has the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner bolstered the move?
The Dreamliner is the key, it's had a huge customer appeal since we've introduced it. The aircraft is perfect for this route, the economics are fantastic. The aircraft gives us the range and the pay load to carry passengers, bags and cargo. Our network in Canada has grown and our net- work into the US is going to be the key. We are the largest foreign airline in the US. We connect 54 destinations, you arrive in Toronto and connect everything into the US and the rest of Canada and some of our international destinations as well. The schedule is designed to make it much easier for Indian travellers to network.
India is an exciting destination and now being seen as a top-of-the-mind destination around the world. More and more young people have been taking interest in the country. There is a lot of growing interest from the Indian MICE market in Canada as a destination. As partners, Visit Canada is keen to promote the country as a destination. It is great value at the moment with the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar versus other currencies in the world. It is a fabulous value destination at the moment. It is a diverse country made up of communities from all over the world it’s always had an open policy to welcome visitors. I think that is very encouraging as a destination. MICE destination is about ambience, setting and destinations to choose from and vibrant cities and all these aspects are available in Canada.
Considering that you’ll have 30 international executive lie-flat seats, do you think India’s improving economy will translate into more Business Class seat sales?
We have three classes – International Executive Class, Premium Economy, and Economy. I think India is a very sophisticated market and they expect the best and Air Canada is geared up to offer that. The destination, the services at the airports, our award-winning lounges, our connection products are all part of the package to get you from one place to another as quickly and comfortably as possible and that's what the Air Canada experience is all about.
IATA Chief Tony Tyler has appealed to the Indian government to help airlines do business in India. How conducive is the Indian environment for airlines to conduct their business?
Judging by the set-up, the airport authority
and the government that we've been dealing with have been very helpful. Delhi is a very busy airport and for us to get the perfect schedule that we wanted has been very helpful. We are yet to start but I have not anticipated any issues at this stage, there are complexities and there's bureaucracy to go through but I wouldn't necessarily say it’s overbearing here compared to other places.
Are you looking at any other Indian destination?
We are very keen to get back into Mumbai we have a lot of new aircrafts - a lot of new 787s coming in. There is a list of destinations that we want to serve throughout the world and Mumbai is high up on that list, it's not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.