Air Canada gets ready for takeoff

The airline "flies the flag" in a new spot, part of communications efforts focused on attracting customers wary of travel.
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Air Canada continues to remind Canadian travellers that it’s ready to serve their needs in an attempt to recover from the business impacts of COVID-19.

A new one-minute spot begins by acknowledging that “everyone has been hit hard” by the pandemic, but goes on to say that Canadians are resilient, celebrating the things that will prepare us for what’s next – including being “ready for takeoff.” The video ends with the “Fly The Flag” tagline, which initially launched for its Olympics advertising in 2016 but was later adapted to other occasions and efforts worthy of national pride.

The video is part of communications the airline has been doing on digital, social and direct channels around its new summer schedule, the implementation of new cleaning procedures and other efforts to encourage customer loyalty. Air Canada reported a $433 million operating loss for the quarter ended March 31 due to the near elimination of air travel, requiring it to tap its credit facilities and access loans in order to remain operational in the following months.

On Friday, the day after the new video launched, Air Canada announced the gradual return of several of its destinations after reducing its capacity between 85% and 90% during the first few months of the pandemic. It is increasing from 34 routes to 58 routes in June, adding more flights throughout the summer before eventually reaching 97 routes – though that is still far below the 220 destinations it flew during the summer last year. The airline also resumed flights to the U.S., returning to six cities as of Monday.

The company’s communications also focus on new cleaning procedures, which it is calling “CleanCare+.” It includes frequent sanitization of all check-in and in-flight surfaces, temperature checks before boarding, blocking off seats to keep a distance between passengers and cleaning cabins with electrostatic sprayers.

New bookings issued by June 30 can be changed without fees, with full refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19, retroactive to March 1. Its new refund policy will allow customers to either receive a non-expiring travel voucher for the value of their flight, or convert the value of their ticket to Aeroplan miles at a 65% bonus (customers with non-refundable tickets will have to choose between the two options). Air Canada says it has refunded nearly $1 billion to customers since the beginning of the year.

On Tuesday, Air Canada also launched a “Takeout to Takeoff” contest, looking to support local restaurants as it engages with Canadians who might not currently have future travel plans on their mind. Contestants can enter by taking a picture of a takeout meal order from a local restaurant and share it on social media using the “#ACTakeoutToTakeoff” hashtag. Two winners will receive a free future trip to Montreal or Vancouver, a $250 credit to a local restaurant and enhance their Air Canada Altitude status.

Air Canada also implemented new features for its Aeroplan loyalty program, extending Altitude status until the end of 2021 and giving users the ability to gift their Altitude status to someone else.

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