Air Canada launches nonstop Miami-Vancouver flights to strengthen Asian links
By Mindy Hagen
Allowing greater access to Asian cities from Miami, Air Canada is launching the first nonstop from Miami International Airport to Vancouver, a hub for continuing flights to the Pacific.
The route brings Miami's total of nonstop Canadian flights on Air Canada to six, said spokesman Dick Griffith.
Other Air Canada daily direct flights from Miami, he said, include four to Toronto and one to Montreal.
Mr. Griffith said Vancouver is particularly important for leisure travelers boarding cruise ships to Alaska or business travelers connecting to flights to Asian nations.
"It looks like the Miami-Vancouver flight will be a very profitable route," Mr. Griffith said. "Vancouver International Airport offers very good connections to Asian destinations as an alternative to US west coast airports for business travelers."
Vancouver is also 750 miles closer than Los Angeles to major Asian centers such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Its airport offers direct service to 12 cities in Asia and the Pacific, including 19 flights weekly to Tokyo, seven to Osaka, Japan; 13 to Seoul, Korea; 10 to Beijing, China, and 28 to Hong Kong.
Miho Ohashi, a research officer with the Japanese consulate in Miami, said a direct flight from Miami to Japan is impossible because of the distance. The longest possible flight from the US to Asia, she said, flies from Los Angeles to Hong Kong in 16 hours.
"The Vancouver flight means one more opportunity for Japanese and other Asians to come to Miami and vice versa," Ms. Ohashi said. "Since there cannot be a direct flight from Miami to Japan, more flights offering connections can only increase travel."
Ms. Ohashi said travelers coming to Miami from Asia usually fly through Los Angeles, Denver or Houston.
Besides fostering more travel opportunities to Asia, a direct route would benefit tourism in Vancouver and Miami, said Normand Villeneuve, Canadian consul and trade commissioner here.
Vancouver, British Columbia's largest city with 2 million people and Canada's third-largest metropolitan center, is in the southwest corner of the country. As a result, Mr. Villeneuve said, most of its residents vacation in the western US.
"Most of the Canadian population from Montreal and Toronto vacation on the east coast of the US and most people from Canada's west go to the west coast," he said. "But perhaps an easier flight connection would convince more to come to Miami."
Mr. Villeneuve also said he hopes Vancouver could become a tourist spot for visitors from South Florida. Called the world's third most popular cruise vacation destination on its airport's Web site, Vancouver's port is home to many cruise ships sailing to view glaciers in Alaska from May to September.
Mr. Griffith said the arrival time of the Vancouver-bound flight, which started July 5, was specifically designed to appeal to potential cruise ship passengers. The Air Canada flight departs from Miami at 7:30 a.m. and arrives in Vancouver by 11 a.m., allowing tourists to board cruise ships in early afternoon before they sail around 5 p.m.
The return flight leaves Vancouver at 1:50 p.m. and gets into Miami at 10:35 p.m., he said.
"This is a great benefit for leisure travelers," Mr. Griffith said. "It's very good timing that they can get on the cruise ships or out to the ski slopes by mid-afternoon."
The Miami-Vancouver direct flight is part of Air Canada's ongoing initiative to improve service to the southeastern US, Mr. Griffith said. This summer the airline has started flying from Jacksonville; Charleston, SC; Greensboro, NC, and Norfolk, VA, to destinations in Canada.
At the end of October, Air Canada also plans to increase flights from Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.