TORONTO — Transat is ramping up its domestic network with a 187% capacity increase. “We’re not gunning for Air Canada or WestJet,” says Transat’s Chief Distribution Officer, Joe Adamo. Rather the big boost in seats comes as Transat focuses on its feeder program as a crucial part of its strategy for a successful winter Sun season.
At Transat’s 2018/2019 Sun program launch yesterday in Toronto, Adamo said Transat’s feeder program from cities across Canada (into Toronto and Montreal for connecting flights) has been so successful that the company is taking things up a notch for the upcoming winter season.
The feeder program “will be critical for the coming winter,” said Adamo. “It will make a material difference to us going forward.”
He reiterated that Transat is not looking to go head to head with the domestic reach of Air Canada or WestJet. “We simply want to optimize our network. I have every confidence that our point-to-point program will be successful.”
Adamo added that Transat is also keenly focused on its relationships with its travel agency partners. “We want to hit the ground running for 2019. We want these [agency chain] discussions to happen now. We want to put these agreements to bed much earlier than in years past. We want to get out there and talk about what we need to be successful for this winter, and those talks need to happen this summer.”
On a national basis Transat’s sun capacity is about the same as last year, keeping in mind that from 2017 to 2018 Transat increased its Sun capacity by about 20%. The company is also essentially replicating last year’s winter transatlantic program with a bit less capacity.
Transat’s domestic routes “are mostly about feeding our South and transatlantic flights. Three years into the program, we can offer greater flexibility and greater choice. The biggest increases are the feeder flights coming in from B.C. and Alberta into Toronto.”
Transat is gearing up for the introduction of its A321neo LR aircraft, with the first delivery scheduled for spring 2019. Transat will be the first North American carrier to fly these new long-range aircraft. The company is also in the process of introducing new A321 short-haul aircraft into its fleet. The aircraft “will be a real game changer for the economics of our company.” The new aircraft are earmarked for select Europe routes “and any and all Sun routes.”
On the hotels side Transat is busy too, with Jordi Solé heading up the company’s new hotels division. “We’re aggressively out to acquire land and/or hotels,” said Adamo. Key destinations include Mexico and the D. R., with Transat’s own line of hotels expected in the next five years.
This year’s ‘Sun & Fun’ 2018/2019 brochure includes, for the first time, Transat’s winter Europe product in Spain and Portugal in the same book as the company’s southern Sun packages, guided tours and Duos and Florida.
Transat’s Commercial Director Nicole Bursey outlined the highlights of the 2018/2019 lineup at yesterday’s launch, covering 34 destinations in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Florida with 635 hotels, including 30 or so new properties, some 40 properties that are exclusive to Transat, and four collections (Luxury, Distinction, Solo and Family).
The winter Europe program also includes vacation options to Costa del Sol, Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve. There are also daily flights into London and Paris. Air Transat flies to Europe year-round with direct flights to Lisbon, Portugal, from Toronto and Montreal, flights between Toronto and Faro, Portugal (from January to April) and between Montreal and Malaga, Spain (all winter long, starting in January). Air Transat also flies to other European cities year-round as well, including Paris, London, Glasgow and Manchester.
Here’s a quick look at the 2018/2019 winter Sun news:
- From Atlantic Canada, winter Sun flights will begin earlier than usual, with a mid-February 2019 start up. Transat has increased capacity out of Atlantic Canada to Florida (MCO and FLL) and also added an extra flight to Punta Cana.
- From Quebec, Transat will be resuming service into both San Juan and St. Maarten. There will be 10 flights a week into Punta Cana and increased capacity into Cartagena, Honduras, Haiti and Martinique out of Montreal as well as increased capacity out of Quebec City to Cancun.
- From Ontario Transat will also resume service into San Juan and St. Maarten, plus add 10 flights to Punta Cana and Cancun, increase capacity to Costa Rica and Florida and increase capacity from Hamilton and Ottawa.
- From the West highlights include increased capacity to Puerto Vallarta from several Western gateways and also increased capacity from Vancouver to Cancun.
Transat’s Early Booking Promotion, originally set to expire June 30, has been extended to July 13 and offers everything from Transat’s Price Drop Guarantee, to flexible change options for travel plans, to Option Plus upgrades for Luxury and Distinction collection passengers, to a $50 voucher for future travel.
Transat’s Groups promo also expires July 13 offering clients $100 per couple savings at select top all-inclusive hotel chains.
Groups continue to be a big part of Transat’s strategy and with Groups Max bookings agents can earn $10 in Transat Bonbon and get free group seating assignment and more for their clients.
Meanwhile Transat’s cruise packages “are as easy to book as a one-week stay at a Decameron resort,” says Bursey.
Transat now has 46 cruise packages on 16 ships, with departures from seven ports of call including, new this year, the return of San Juan as well as Cartagena. Packages include roundtrip flights with Air Transat, transfers and the cruise.
Transat’s newest cruise partner is Princess Cruises. “This is a real coup for us because they don’t typically work through tour operators in Canada,” said Bursey. “They like Transat’s package concept.”