EXCLUSIVE Canada to lure U.S. frequent flyers by matching travel perks on Air Canada

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Air Canada planes are parked at Toronto Pearson Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada April 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photograph

MONTREAL, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Canada is attempting to make use of the lure of journey perks to persuade America’s frequent flying elite to fly north on Air Canada , because the nation steps up efforts to revive essential visitors from america, a Canadian official instructed Reuters.

COVID-19 has battered journey from Canada’s largest tourism market. Through the first half of 2021, Canada had about 178,000 in a single day arrivals from america, in contrast with 6.8 million throughout the identical interval in 2019, based on authorities knowledge.

To assist reverse that decline, authorities tourism physique, Vacation spot Canada will, roll out on Monday its first marketing campaign concentrating on U.S. frequent fliers.

It’s a part of broader, C$14 million ($11.2 million) efforts by the tourism fee to spice up visitors after Canada lately opened its borders to vaccinated travellers. It isn’t clear how a lot the precise frequent flyer marketing campaign will price.

“That is super-focused by way of our potential to achieve frequent fliers,” mentioned Gloria Loree, Vacation spot Canada’s chief advertising officer forward of the launch.

Below the plan, as much as 20,000 U.S. frequent flyers with carriers like American Airways , Southwest Airways Co , and Delta Air Strains might get matching standing when flying Air Canada north of the border.

It isn’t clear how U.S. carriers would react to the plan, though Loree mentioned the opportunity of airline retaliation had been thought-about.

Frequent-flyer standing offers vacationers perks like precedence boarding that may usually price a premium fare or a charge.

Whereas world airline alliances provide status-matching to passengers from their member carriers, having a vacation spot sponsor such a plan is extremely uncommon, mentioned Mark-Ross Smith, chief govt of Standing Match, which handles logistics for the Canadian mission.

“That is the push to get them coming to Canada.”

Eligible U.S. frequent flyers who e-book and journey north on AC earlier than Jan. 15, 2022 will preserve their standing with the provider for all of 2022, she mentioned.

It comes as nations ease restrictions on worldwide journey, with america set to reopen in November to vaccinated air vacationers from 33 nations.

She argued boosting cross-border journey will assist each nations.

Loree mentioned funding frequent-flyer standing matching is not any completely different from different incentives paid for by Vacation spot Canada, akin to a separate marketing campaign this 12 months with Air Canada’s rival WestJet Airways.

Loree mentioned the objective is to revive routes from america, whereas attempting to draw vacationers who will return to Canada.

In April, hard-hit Air Canada acquired an estimated C$5.9 billion authorities support bundle with the nation gaining a roughly 6% stake within the provider.

Whereas Canada’s excessive vaccination charge might lure vacationers, the price of the nation’s PCR take a look at necessities for arrivals might dissuade some vacationers, mentioned Frederic Dimanche, director of the Ted Rogers College of Hospitality and Tourism Administration at Ryerson College.

Loree mentioned concentrating on U.S. frequent fliers is a plus as a result of they’re largely accustomed to these necessities.

“They’ve found out the right way to journey,” Loree mentioned. “So we would like them to think about Canada as their subsequent journey.”

($1 = 1.2652 Canadian {dollars})

Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal
Modifying by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker


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