AC’s Western DOS Bonnie Walker: “We Haven’t Raised Fares Since 1937!”
with Vickie Sam Paget
Air Canada’s director of sales for Western Canada, Bonnie Walker (centre), with flight attendants Marie-Pier Papakonstantinou (left) and Jessica Corlett (right).
Air Canada’s regional sales manager for British Columbia, Edna Ray, with Syed Hussain, regional sales manager at Air Canada.
From left: Denise Flemig, manager of corporate sales at Air Canada, Alissa Wunder, office manager at Goldcorp Inc, Alex Tsourpis, office manager and senior executive administrator at B2Gold Corp, Tracy Thiessen, corporate travel manager at Hootsuite, and Ilona Lukovskaya, executive assistant at B2Gold Corp.
James Howey, manager for business development for Air Canada in Western Canada.
WD World Travel’s General manager Renato Ferrari, corporate agent Shazia Kumar, and corporate travel specialist Carlotta Perrozzi.
The great and good of Western Canada’s travel industry gathered at Vancouver’s uber-stylish Bar None nightclub on Thursday evening to celebrate Air Canada’s expansion out of YVR with a few cocktails and a lot of good humour.
There was plenty to toast, with the airline celebrating its 80th birthday and an astonishing 60% increase of capacity in and out of Vancouver over the last five years - as well as the opening of its brand-new Maple Leaf Lounge at YVR and the launch of fresh routes to Yellowknife, Orlando and Melbourne this winter.
But the highlight of the evening had to be the superbly tongue-in-cheek presentation from the airline’s director of sales for Western Canada, Bonnie Walker.
The crowd got a real buzz out of her down-to-earth, sassy style.
“We just celebrated our 80thbirthday,” she smiled, “and for those of you who don’t know, TCA -- which was Trans Canada Airlines at the time - operated its very first flight out of Vancouver to Seattle on September 1, 1937.
“We carried two passengers on a Lockheed L10A. Yeah, the passenger load-factor wasn’t so great, but they paid $7.90 each!
“You’re thinking‘What a bargain!’, but in net-present-value that’s about $135, so considering that we sell one-way tickets from Vancouver to Seattle for as low at $75 today, we really haven’t raised our prices! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
But if the carrier’s fares haven’t – in Walker’s eyes – really changed over the last eight decades, there are plenty of things that have, especially when it comes to expansion out of YVR.
Walker had all the stats at her fingertips: AC carried an incredible 10.5 million pax in and out of YVR last year. It also inaugurated routes to Denver, Dallas, Boston, Phoenix, Frankfurt, Taipei and London Gatwick. This winter it’s launching Yellowknife, Orlando and Melbourne and reintroducing Delhi on a seasonal basis.
Next year Paris and Zurich will be added to the line-up, while Melbourne will expand to year-round service. Seasonal service into Dublin will be reintroduced and there will be double-daily service to LHR.
There are even more expansion plans in the pipeline, as the airline takes delivery of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which will initially serve Toronto to Shannon and Montreal to Dublin. However, as Walker hinted, we could soon see the Max in YVR.
“Given its range you can be guaranteed that it will do flights out of Vancouver,” she said. “I’m really excited about what some of these routes may be. I can’t share them yet, but I have seen some exciting route maps in regard to the addition of these aircraft to our fleet.
“We are an 80-year-old company that’s thinking like a start-up, which is really exciting,” beamed Walker.
“We keep bringing in new routes and new aircraft and I honestly do not see an end to the expansion.
“Vancouver used to be our trans-Pacific hub, but a lot of our expansion is over the Atlantic. We’re far more than just a trans-Pacific hub here in Vancouver.”