Price war ruled out in fresh Canada challenge
By DENISE TSANG
AIR Canada will begin regular services between Hong Kong, Vancouver and Toronto on December 22 and expects to reach break-even within six months, its regional director Robert Pinkerton said.
A spokesman for Canada's largest carrier ruled out a price-cutting war with CathayPacific and Canadian Airlines, which have dominated the route for 50 years.
Air Canada initially will have three weekly flights, increasing later to four.
'Market demand for flights to Canada in the coming peak seasons of Christmas and Lunar New Year is expected to reach a crescendo,' Mr Pinkerton said.
Mr Ivan Tsang, passenger sales manager, said that due to the anticipated robust demand a price-cutting war with existing carriers was unlikely.
'The ticket price, say, for a round trip of economy class, is set around $8,000 each, which is close to the price range of the other two carriers,' he said.
'Air Canada is just to provide an alternative to passengers.' The company planned to offer special-priced tickets later.
The air giant is to use a 747-400 combi carrying 299 passengers.
Flights will be on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays until April, when a fourth service will be added.
Flights are due to leave Kai Tak at 10.20 am and land at Vancouver at 5.30 am the same day.
While 10.20 am was not ideal, it allowed the flights to connect with other Canadian or US flights, Mr Pinkerton said.
He said Air Canada would launch services to Singapore and Jakarta next year, but Hong Kong would remain its base for expansion in Asia.