Air Canada is back in Brisbane. The Montreal-based airline suspended flights to the Queensland capital at the start of the pandemic, but 27 months later Air Canada is back, now flying four times a week from Vancouver. The Air Canada flights bring the number of North American destinations directly linked to Brisbane to three, complementing Qantas’ services to Los Angeles and upcoming United Airlines flights to San Francisco.
Four times a week between Vancouver and Brisbane
On Friday evening local time, an Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (registration C-FVNB) was pushed back from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for the 14-hour journey to Brisbane (BNE), landing to a warm welcome on Sunday morning. After a few hours at the gate of Brisbane International Airport (BNE), the jet turned around to return home.
Every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, Air Canada flight AC35 will take off from YVR and arrive in Brisbane at breakfast time two calendar days later. Mid-morning every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, the AC36 departs Brisbane for the return trip to Vancouver. The Air Canada Dreamliner used on the Brisbane flights can accommodate 298 passengers, including 247 economy class passengers, 21 premium economy class passengers and 30 business class passengers. The first weekend flight to Brisbane was fully booked.
Passengers disembarking from the Air Canada flight at Brisbane Airport on Sunday morning. Photo: Brisbane Airport Corporation
Another suspended air service resumes at Brisbane Airport
Brisbane is the main gateway for international visitors traveling to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef and Cairns. The airport says Air Canada flights will bring an additional 60,000 travelers a year to Brisbane, and Vancouver is the airport’s 20th international city pair. Like Air Canada, many carriers halted flights to Brisbane at the start of the pandemic. Restoring these flights is a key priority for Brisbane Airport.
Air Canada’s return to Brisbane coincides with Australia lifting its last pandemic-related travel restrictions. From Wednesday 6 July, passengers traveling to Australia will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination; unvaccinated visa holders will not need a travel exemption; passengers will not be required to complete the digital passenger declaration, and passengers departing from Australia will not be required to provide proof of their vaccination status.
The Air Canada Dreamliner at the gate of Brisbane Airport on Sunday morning. Photo: Gareth Ruhe/Brisbane Airport Corporation
Last of Fortress Australia’s travel restrictions end this week
The decision is a 180-degree turn from just nine months ago, when stronghold Australia banned almost all inbound and outbound travel, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. The Australian government says the changes are being made on health advice.
“It removes another hurdle for international travelers as they assess which country to visit. Australia competes for every tourist dollar, and for thousands of potential visitors, it will make us a more attractive destination,” Brisbane Airport chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said.
As in most markets, the lack of capacity to and from Australia and high passenger demand are causing airlines to charge high fares. An example of a fictional reservation on a YVR – BNE flight in a month, August 5, shows that one-way fares range from US$1,480 to $9,898 one-way, depending on where you prefer to sit in the plane. Air Canada is under fire for operational and customer service issues these days, but with fares like this, Air Canada passengers flying to Brisbane are hoping for a hassle-free flight.