Air Canada and United Airlines have announced a joint business agreement for the Canada-U.S. transborder market, building on their long-standing alliance, that will result in more flight options and better schedules.
Customers will be able to connect to 38 codeshare destinations in the U.S. and eight of the most popular cities in Canada — all while enjoying the benefits of the carriers' MileagePlus and Aeroplan loyalty programs.
The agreement is also positioned as a way of accelerating their COVID-19 recovery.
"United is a world-class airline and we are pleased to significantly expand our well-established partnership to further enhance the customer journey between Canada and the U.S. by offering more choice, greater convenience and an improved airport experience," said Mark Galardo, senior vice-president of network planning and revenue management at Air Canada. "This agreement marks a new phase in our evolving relationship that will speed the recovery from the pandemic and strengthen both carriers. It will also enable us to optimize our hubs and schedules and to broaden our global network connectivity to maintain our leadership in the market."
Patrick Quayle, senior vice-president of global network planning and alliances at United, added that the agreement will provide "an enhanced experience for all transborder travel."
More flights at convenient times
The deal is poised to unroll more flight options at more convenient times.
In 2019, the U.S.-Canada transborder market was the second largest international passenger air transportation market in the world and the largest international market for both Canada and the U.S., as measured by seats.
Air Canada and United already cooperate in the transborder market, according to the terms of their existing U.S. antitrust immunity.
Under the joint business agreement, subject to compliance with U.S. and Canadian regulatory and antitrust requirements, the two airlines will now be able to:
- Coordinate their networks and schedules, enabling the carriers to offer customers more choice, including more flights throughout the day and more access to each airline's seat inventory.
- Enhance codeshare on transborder flights, excluding certain U.S. leisure markets and territories. The carriers anticipate customers will be able to connect to 46 transborder codeshare destinations with more than 400 daily frequencies in 2022 – with opportunities to add more codeshare destinations for domestic routes within Canada and the U.S.
- Sell seats on each other's transborder flights and share revenue on flights between hub markets (where regulatory authorities and antitrust requirements allow), allowing the carriers to grow their overall capacities.
- Align customer policies for greater consistency and enable the seamless provision of onboard products, establish airport co-locations where available and provide extra value to each carriers' frequent flyer programs.
- Allow the two carriers to work closer together to advance their sustainability objectives.
This builds on the existing cooperation of the two carriers and previously acquired regulatory approvals.
United and Air Canada are also founding members of Star Alliance and a transatlantic joint business agreement with the Lufthansa Group.