Air Canada plans to resume flights between Vancouver and Sydney in mid-December. The announcement comes hot on the heels of Qantas saying it intends to resume flying the route before Christmas.
Four flights a week to Sydney from mid-December
As reported in Executive Traveller on Tuesday, an Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR jet will take flight between the two cities four times a week from December 17. Before the travel downturn, Air Canada operated year-round flights to Sydney while Qantas operated seasonal services to Vancouver.
In 2019, the last year of normal airline traffic, two-way passenger traffic between Canada and Australia totaled 423,504. In the same year, Air Canada and Qantas operated 1,874 passenger flights between the two countries.
After a strong start to 2020, traffic collapsed in March. Across 2020, two-way passenger traffic between Canada and Australia amounted to 111,035. Available passenger flights in 2020 totaled 482.
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Air Canada will send their Boeing 777-200LRs down to Sydney
In March 2020, Qantas ceased flying to Canada along with most of its overseas destinations. Air Canada paused its Australia flights in April 2020. Now, after a year and a half away, Air Canada’s flights to Sydney are back in the timetables and available for sale.
Starting Friday, December 17, Air Canada flight AC033 will depart Vancouver (YVR) at 22:30 every Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. After 15 plus hours in the sky, the Boeing 777-200LR lands in Sydney (SYD) at 09:05 two days later.
The return flight to Vancouver will leave Sydney every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from December 19. AC034 will push back at 11:45 and, owing to the magic of the international dateline, touch down in Vancouver at 07:00 on the same day.
Air Canada’s 777-200LR seat 300 passengers. That includes 236 passengers in the main cabin in a predominantly 3-4-3 layout (there are some 2-4-2 configured rows down the back of the plane). Midway along the plane, a small premium economy cabin seats 24 passengers in a 2-4-2 layout. Towards the front of the Boeing is the business class cabin. Forty lie-flat seats, or “open suites,” come in a 1-2-1 layout.
Only vaccinated travelers welcome onboard
Air Canada retains six Boeing 777-200LR planes, all aged 13 plus years. The airline’s decision to use this aircraft type on a long-haul flight rather than the new 787 Dreamliner is raising some eyebrows. Not everyone is a fan of the plane. But 15 hours on a Dreamliner is nothing to write home about either, especially if flying in the main cabin.
However, with two airlines planning to fly between Vancouver and Sydney (Qantas plans to fly three times a week on the route from December 18 using Boeing 787-9 aircraft), passengers will at least have a choice.
There will also be some similarities between the two airlines. Neither Air Canada nor Qantas will board unvaccinated passengers on their international flights. Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed only fully vaccinated travelers could enter Canada. Passengers will also need evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of traveling.
Australia is still sorting out its border rules and a re-opening date, but Qantas has already confirmed it will not fly unvaccinated passengers on its international flights. There is now a widespread expectation Australia will begin relaxing its travel bans for vaccinated travelers as soon as November.
Both Air Canada and Qantas are betting on this happening. After an 18 month hiatus on the route, resuming flights would be a welcome Christmas present for both airlines.