Air Transport World

The spreading Maple Leaf.

Known as a superior service provider on the lucrative North Atlantic, opportunistic Air Canada looks to expand in Paris and elsewhere

Air Canada might appear to be fully occupied by the raging merger wars involving itself, Canadian Airlines and Onex Corp., but it is continuing to work on its own organic expansion plans.

Take, for instance, its plan to launch a long-term marketing agreement with France's SNCF high-speed TGV rail service between Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport, out of which Air Canada flies, and Lyons, one of the country's largest business centers. Such a coupling will allow the airline and its Star Alliance partners to tap into the lucrative domestic market in France.

The agreement was to have been signed last September but the Onex challenge postponed many of Air Canada's strategic plans. As a result, American Airlines, which is part of the competing oneworld alliance, got the ink first with its announcement of a similar agreement with SNCF. What remains to be seen is how each carrier packages its respective air-to-rail connection and how, if at all, these agreements fit into the strategic plans of their alliances. Both Air Canada and American say they will label the continuing services with their respective designator codes and flight numbers and may extend the arrangement with SNCF to points in France and to nearby countries. …

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