MONTREAL — Air Canada’s road to the Olympics has officially begun with the first of three special charter flights departing on Jan. 26.
Flight AC2201 left Vancouver for Beijing yesterday with members of Team Canada onboard, all of whom will be competing at the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, taking place Feb. 4-20 and March 4-13, respectively. Air Canada has been a sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Team since 1988 and the Canadian Paralympic Team since 2007.
The airline also named its Team Air Canada athlete ambassadors and outlined its program in support of Team Canada’s journey to the Games. Ambassadors include: Cassie Sharpe (Freestyle Skiing – Halfpipe); Cynthia Appiah (Bobsleigh); Gilmore Junio (Speed Skating – Long Track); Marie-Philip Poulin (Ice Hockey); and Mikaël Kingsbury (Freestyle Skiing – Moguls). Paralympian ambassadors will be announced prior to the Paralympic Games.
“At Air Canada, we are proud to literally ‘Fly the Flag’ as we transport Team Canada to the 2022 Winter Games and honour their journey to the podium,” said Andy Shibata, Vice President, Brand at Air Canada. “Their resilience and relentless drive to be the very best in their sport while embodying Canada’s collective values of diversity, inclusivity, openness and kindness inspire all of us. We look forward to sharing our athletes’ individual journeys and cheering on all members of Team Canada in their pursuit of excellence.”
According to Jacquie Ryan, Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Brand and Commercial Officer, planning flights for approximately 230 Team Canada athletes was a logistical challenge during the pandemic.
“However, our amazing partner at Air Canada has provided incredible support behind the scenes to ensure a safe path for athletes including air charter services to and from Beijing. We have never been more proud to Fly The Flag on the official airline of Team Canada,” said Ryan.
Air Canada’s charter flights operate with a 787 Dreamliner in a special livery. Additional flights from Vancouver to Beijing will take place on Feb. 25 and return to Canada from Beijing to Vancouver and Toronto on Feb. 21 and to Vancouver on March 14.
In addition to the charter flights, Air Canada released its ‘Rise Higher’ video online, which will be broadcast throughout the Games, presented all Team Canada athletes with unique personal care kits, provided them with Aeroplan points and complimentary 35K status, and encouraged fans to virtually connect with the team via online events.