Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Following a busy May long weekend, Air Canada is reporting strong operational performance as the summer travel season begins.
The airline says it flew roughly 540,000 customers this past weekend, from May 19 to 22, and almost all of those travellers arrived in their destinations on time.
"I am very pleased by the performance of our airline during the first long weekend of the summer,” said Kevin O'Connor, senior vice-president, global airports and operational control at Air Canada, in a press release on Monday (May 23).
“We carried heavy loads, with 540,000 customers and our mainline aircraft 95 per cent full on Friday, yet we achieved a flight completion ratio of 98.7 per cent and a solid on-time performance that reached 90 per cent Sunday morning.”
While weather was favourable, airline still faced flight challenges, including wildfires in Western Canada, weather disruptions in the southern U.S. and even a volcano in Mexico.
READ MORE: “A roller-coaster 24 hours”: Agents sound off on WestJet pilot deal, booking challenges
"I thank all our employees for their hard work and dedication to serving our customers and transporting them safely. I also commend our industry partners, upon whom we depend for the air travel system to operate smoothly,” O'Connor stated.
“While sustained high passenger loads of the season are yet to fully arrive, our success during the first holiday weekend gives us added confidence that we are ready to perform well this summer."
WestJet’s near shutdown on Friday (May 19) may have played a role in boosting Air Canada’s load factor.
The possibility of a pilot strike at the Calgary-based airline led many customers, in an attempt to save their long weekend plans, to book flights elsewhere.
Though a last-minute deal between WestJet and its pilot union was reached, many flights were proactively cancelled in advance and the schedule wasn't fully restored until Sunday (May 21).
A Flair for performance
Air Canada isn’t the only airline in the country sharing strong performance indicators.
Earlier this month, low-cost carrier Flair Airlines noted that 74.1 per cent of its flights were on time in April.
In addition, Flair said its April load factors — the percentage of seats occupied by paying customers on its flights — was 90.3 per cent in April 2023, with 394,431 passengers booked.
“We were very pleased with Flair Airlines' performance in April, which is a testament to our more than 1,250 employees hard at work delivering a great experience for customers," stated Stephen Jones, CEO of Flair Airlines.
"While our on-time performance was among the best in Canada in April, there is still much work to do as we prepare for what promises to be an incredible summer travel period.
"Being focused on this key indicator helps our entire team run a more efficient airline and keep our costs low, for which customers are the beneficiaries."
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today! Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.