“Full Steam Ahead:” Transat Enhances Its Offering From Vancouver
with Vickie Sam Paget
Jelena Jado, regional manager at Transat Travel checks out the Airbus A321neoLR.
Dean Neville, sales manager for Western Canada at Transat.
Western Canada’s industry professionals gather to hear the latest news from Transat.
Deidre Verigen, Western Canada BDM for Ensemble, Chris Rollinson, co-president at Escapes.ca and Bee Bee Prangchan, director of partner relations at Uniglobe Travel.
Hank Oostveen, vice president at Uniglobe Travel, with Richard Job, vice president of commercial partnerships at Flight Centre.
With new aircraft, increased capacity from western Canada and an acquisition update to share news on, it’s no surprise that the crème-de-la-crème of the Western Canada travel industry scene flocked to a Transat event at Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar this week.
Transat’s Western Canada Sales Manager Dean Neville kicked off his presentation with the news that Transat intends to have a 100% Airbus fleet by 2022.
“The biggest news this year for Vancouver is the Airbus A321neoLR,” enthused Neville. “It’s going to make its appearance here in December. The economics are great and we’ve brought back Club Class, which is great for the Vancouver market. We’re also offering a lot more comfort and increased frequency.”
Neville then opened the floor to Transat’s chief distribution officer, Joseph Adamo, who worked on the design phase of the aircraft.
“About two years ago I was asked to be part of a committee to work on the interior fit-out and the customer experience. It really was fun. I liken it to decorating a new home that’s worth over $100 million!” he laughed.
“I think this is the nicest single-aisle commercial aircraft. We’re the first in North America to fly this plane and we’re the first to have it cross the Atlantic Ocean. From the cabin noise to the quality of space and the mood lighting, it’s an outstanding product. We’re flying two now, but there’ll be six by next summer--and ultimately there’ll be 17.”
The A321neoLR will operate on Vancouver routes to Montreal, Costa Rica, Fort Lauderdale and Punta Cana. Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of special ‘321 Take Off’ travel agent incentives over the coming weeks to win a dream trip to Costa Rica.
Other highlights of Transat’s winter schedule from Vancouver include the only direct non-stop route to Fort Lauderdale; the fact that the Punta Cana service will no longer stop in Calgary (plus five times Bon Bon points on this route until the end of OCT); an extended schedule from Winnipeg to Cuba; and increased capacity from Calgary and Victoria to Cuba.
New aircraft and increased capacity are all well and good, but it was clear that the burning question in the room was: “What’s the latest with the Air Canada acquisition?”
“We’re now in regulatory submissions with the Competition Bureau at the Ministry of Transport in Canada and in Europe,” explained Adamo. “On 23AUG Transat shareholders voted 95% in favour of selling Transat to Air Canada, so it was nearly unanimous. That was an important milestone because it cleared the path to a transaction that should close next June.
“While Transat did not put a ‘For Sale’ sign on its lawn, we were looking for new alliances and new partnerships. While our 32-year leisure point-to-point model has served us well, it has to evolve. Air Canada came calling and there is no greater alliance than working with Air Canada.
“We think that together we’re a pretty powerful combination and I think it will allow Transat and its employees to take what was built over 32 years and make it shine on a global stage. Until then, nothing actually changes.
“I would see the impact happening in 2021. Until then it truly is business as usual. It’s full steam ahead with our growth plans, our new fleet and new routes.”
Vickie Sam Paget Western Correspondent
Hailing from the UK, Vickie Sam Paget is a travel and tourism storyteller located in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not on the road, creating engaging travel content or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.