Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Canada-Korea Air Agreement, could Korean or Asiana be the first Asian link to YYC?

It may be far fetched at this point, but Canada and the Republic of Korea concluded a Blue Sky Air transport agreement yesterday. This means that air carriers can serve any destination with passenger or cargo flight in each others respective countries. It also gives fifth freedom rights allowing carriers to be able to pick up traffic in each others territory and continue to a third country as part of a service to or from their home territory.

What does this mean for Calgary?
Not much yet. However YYC does have regular cargo service from Asiana, which could expand at anytime. For passenger service, Korean Airlines has operated charter flights from Korea to Calgary in the past but that was only for Korean tourists coming here. Korean Airlines does seem like a logical choice for passenger service to YYC as they have been slowly increasing flights between Seoul and Toronto and Vancouver and could possibly team up with WestJet for a Canadian feed to their flight.

Why WestJet?
There have always been rumours about WestJet joining the OneWorld alliance but my opinion has always been that SkyTeam would be a better fit for WestJet (*see below for more on why I think so) With the current agreement in place between WestJet and Air France KLM, Korean could be the next choice in a partner airline due to the SkyTeam ties. WestJet would then feed both Europe and Asia directly with partners that are SkyTeam based, and of course with YYC being WJ's main hub, then a feed could be provided to a flight that goes to Seoul and beyond to many Asian destinations. However, while this is not out of the question, one could just assume that if WJ did partner with Korean then they could just feed existing Korean flights out of YVR and YYZ and at this point, this is the more likely scenario.

The other Korean option is Air Canada or Asiana, Asiana as part of the Star Alliance is already partnered with Air Canada but does not offer any flights to Canada. Air Canada does serve Seoul from Vancouver (and Toronto via same plane service). So either airline could take up the route with feeds from other Canadian cities into Calgary. However once again the arguement could be made that why do this when you can feed all the passengers into Vancouver.

At this point my ideas may be far fetched, but with this new agreement, Calgary's first true scheduled service to Asia just may be to Korea (I don't consider that possible one weekly flight next year to Japan as true scheduled service, see this IFlyCalgary blog post for that.)

* Why do I think SkyTeam is a better fit for WestJet?
While WestJet may never join an alliance and be more like Alaska Airlines in picking partners from across the board that suit and match their needs, if WestJet did, SkyTeam is a good choice. Why? Although less prolific then both Star Alliance and OneWorld, SkyTeam is actually the second largest alliance serving Canada in terms of flights and cities served. Delta/Northwest serve almost every major city in 9 provinces across Canada, many that are also served by WestJet. Internationally Korean Air serves Toronto and Vancouver, KLM serves Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, Air France serves Toronto and Montreal, Alitalia serves Toronto, AeroMexico serves Toronto and Montreal, and Czech Airlines serves Toronto (ending soon though) Through these sheer numbers of cities, WestJet could provide feed to a broader range of flights and vice versa from the SkyTeam carriers then the third alliance option, OneWorld could.

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