AC Flight Attendants welcomed guests to the launch event
Bonnie Walker taking us through her recent trip to Delhi
Kevin Howlett addresses the crowd with details of the new service
Martha Williams & Michele Joel of the Travel Group show off their henna
(l-r) Marc Roy, Air Canada with Peter Bernat, Richard Job & Troy Vigushin of Flight Centre Travel Group.
Air Canada hosted close to 300 travel trade, corporate accounts and other guests at the Vancouver Art Gallery last week to celebrate the upcoming 20OCT launch of their seasonal YVR-DEL route. The AC team - roughly 30 strong from across Canada - welcomed us all with much fanfare.
AC's Direct of Sales Western Canada Bonnie Walker took the stage to build the excitement as she walked us through her recent trip to Delhi, followed by an address from Senior V.P. Regional Markets Kevin Howlett, extolling the benefits of this new route. In a separate lounge, 2 henna artists adorned guests' hands with their intricate designs. Giving us literally, a taste of what's to come, the evening's food was catered by Vancouver-based Vikram Vij & Meeru Dhalwala of Vij's and Rangoli restaurants, whose modern Indian cuisine will be served in all cabins onboard.
As I spoke to agents in the room, everyone was enthusiastic about this new service. Martha Williams & Michele Joel of The Travel Group, who have corporate and leisure clients for the new DEL route, foresee nothing but success. Martha tells me that interest in leisure travel to India has increased dramatically due to the spotlight on Amazing Race Canada last year, and AC's direct service is very timely. With the world's 3rd largest economy, and over 250,000 Indo-Canadians living in the Greater Vancouver area, both agree that AC's decision to launch a nonstop route from YVR is wise indeed.
The Flight Centre team of Ricard Job, Peter Bernat & Troy Vigushin are also hyped about this new service. They feel that clients would be willing to pay for the convenience of a nonstop flight, and given the volume of travellers between Vancouver and Delhi, AC shouldn't have any problems filling their seats. A quick check on my part generated good results - on a January trip to DEL, AC fares run $165-$228 more than other carriers, but also shaves an astounding 7-9 hr. flying and connecting time. That is well worth the extra cost.
Not only will this route benefit the business and leisure markets between Canada and India, it also will welcome tourists to BC and beyond, as well as students for ESL and post secondary education programs, which is great news for both economies.
AC now asks the travel agent community for help in spreading the word on this route to ensure its success. With a spanking new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, celebrity chef catering and nonstop service bridging the gap, we don't foresee any challenges, and there are high hopes that it will become year round service in the near future.
Brent Coate of Forbes Travel was the lucky winner of 2 AC tickets to DEL.
Some of the AC team squeezed in for a group photo.