Air Canada's Pandemic Reset
The airline, which ordered 18 Dreamliners this week, shifted its strategy to focus on core hubs. An executive shares why. Also: Akbar Al Baker has harsh words about alternative fuels and other issues.
Hello from New York City, where I am attending the Skift Global Forum to interview the peripatetic American aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman. I’ll see if he will tell us how his scrappy new entrant, Breeze, is really doing amid higher fuel prices, falling demand, and spirited competition from premium airlines that don’t want to bleed customers to new entrants.
But first, I want to return to Air Canada. In August, after the airline’s second quarter earnings call, I wrote about how it again is prioritizing its sixth freedom strategy to connect the United States with the world. In that story, I gently chided Mark Galardo, who was recently promoted to executive vice president of network and revenue planning, for speaking in soundbites, not juicy anecdotes. Galardo read the piece and contacted me to offer details. His context is germane this week, as Air Canada just gave him more to work with — a firm order for 18 Boeing 787-10s, with 12 options.
Also, today, I’ll share zingers from Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, who was his usual sardonic self at last week’s Airline Passenger Experience conference in Long Beach, California. I moderated a session about the future of seating1 and watched Al Baker’s session. He seems to enjoy saying incendiary things to make the audience chuckle, though it’s not clear how much he believes them.
Let’s start with Air Canada’s global strategy.