Air Canada swooped up some serious hardware at this year’s Skytrax World Airline Awards, an accomplishment that has left John MacLeod, vice president global sales & alliances at Air Canada feeling “very proud."
Air Canada received five awards at Skytrax’s June 18th ceremony at the International Paris Air Show. The World Travel Awards are often referred to as "the Oscars of the aviation industry."
It was the eighth time in the past ten years Air Canada was selected as the Best in North America. The airline was also recognized as the world's Best Business Class Lounge Dining, Best Airline Staff in Canada, Best Business Class in North America and Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in North America.
“We’re very proud of the results,” MacLeod told PAX in a telephone interview this week, noting that this year’s five awards represented an increase in acknowledgements compared to previous years. “We're very grateful to our employees for taking care of our customers.”
The Skytrax World Airline Awards are based on passenger satisfaction surveys of more than 21 million global travellers.
It's all about the customer
Air Canada’s approach to customer service has been a primary focus as of late, MacLeod explained.
Time and effort has been devoted to the airline’s in-flight experience – “to be more consistent, to make sure policies and procedures are aligned, [and] to actually monitor and train staff so they understand the value of consistence and improved customer service,” MacLeod said.
The awards are proof that an improvement has been made to Air Canada's approach, MacLeod said.
Air Canada has also made a significant investment in renewing its products: the fleet, the amenities associated with flying (“especially in our premium cabins,” MacLeod said) and the overall airport experience.
“We have a consistent product,” MacLeod said. “We’re able to meet our customers’ expectations because they are becoming familiar. Our partners are selling it, and they can sell with confidence.”
One accomplishment MacLeod is particularly proud of is Air Canada’s relatively-new Signature Suite, which is exclusively for Air Canada Signature Class customers travelling to Europe, Asia and South America.
Here, guests can enjoy sit-down meals crafted by renowned chef David Hawksworth and signature cocktails. (Air Canada did, after all, win Best Business Class Lounge Dining).
“It really is a five-star experience,” MacLeod told PAX.
The Air Canada Signature Suite opened in December 2017 and is located at Toronto Pearson International Airport in the international departure area next to Gate E77.
Do Skytrax awards influence the decision-making process at Air Canada?
“We believe they do,” MacLeod said. “It’s a reflection of our customers’ experience, and our customers’ view of Air Canada. We proudly display Skytrax awards next to our branding. It’s an endorsement from our customers.”
As for what to expect next from Air Canada: “All hands are on deck to deliver a new reservation system before the end of year,” MacLeod said.
The new system is called Altea, an Amadeus product.
“It’s a very big project,” MacLeod said. “It will give us more flexibility to better serve our customers, but will also give the travel agency community more flexibility in managing their customers’ travel plans.”
As previously announced, Air Canada has also bought back Aeroplan and is currently building a new rewards program.
“It’s unique for an airline to re-launch its frequent flyer program,” MacLeod said. “Our customers will like it.”
Finally, Air Canada will receive delivery of a new “cutting edge aircraft,” the Airbus A220, by the end of the year.
“It’s going to be a game-changer for us,” MacLeod said. “This airplane is not only environmentally-friendly, it’s also cost effective. It has great range capability. It’s very comfortable as well.”
The incoming Airbus A220s will replace Air Canada’s E190s by Embraer.
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