UK-Canada aviation: biggest Europe-Canada market stagnates

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Air Transat has noted the importance of Heathrow traffic in the market between the UK and Canada and is keen to attract more of this to Gatwick. Heathrow dominates UK-Canada traffic, but only the two national airlines, Air Canada and British Airways, serve Canada from the UK's biggest airport.

Air Transat's commercial director for the UK and Ireland Adrian Keating regards this as one of Air Transat's "biggest challenges", as "so much Canadian traffic is Heathrow based" (Business Traveller Asia Pacific, 9-Nov-2019).

The UK is the biggest market in Europe by annual seats to/from Canada, but annual capacity has grown only very slowly in recent years and much more slowly than the overall Europe-Canada market.

Canadian airlines, led by Air Canada, dominate the UK-Canada market and drive growth (particularly the entry of LCC WestJet in 2015). British Airways has reduced its seat count, and Virgin Atlantic left this market in 2014. However, in Nov-2019 Virgin announced a new codeshare with WestJet to 32 destinations in Canada for passengers travelling from Gatwick.

Air Transat is introducing the A321LR into the UK-Canada market in 2020. Long range narrowbody aircraft such as this could help to reinvigorate the market.

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