The arrival of Air China - Montréal’s very first non-stop flight to Asia

Partnering With Carriers

On September 29, 2015, Aéroports de Montréal (“ADM”) achieved an important milestone in its history and the history of Montréal when it welcomed its first-ever non-stop transpacific flight between Montréal and Beijing by Air China after many years of numerous meetings at Air China headquarters involving Chinese and Canadian Embassy officials and the business community, as well as attaining a petition of 5,000 names.
During these months of negotiation and persuasion, ADM ASD team built a solid business relationship with Air China, an important value for Chinese people. In all contacts with CA, ADM staff continuously promoted common purpose, trust and strong ethics. We went beyond the traditional definition of airport/airline relationship. “Think outside the box” was the way for us to innovate to achieve a successful partnership.
Air China truly appreciated ADM team effort and warm welcomes they received from all parties involved. They immediately saw the great benefits of working together. It was a rewarding experience for all.
Furthermore, Air China’s new service brought international visibility and recognition to Air China, Montréal and Trudeau-Airport. The whole community and media gathered to take part of this amazing historical moment.

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

Given the historical aspect and the complexity of dealing with a new culture, Aéroports de Montréal needed to show a full commitment to Air China, our new partner to ensure a great financial success from day 1!

2. Production

In order to prove how valuable was this new partnership to Air China, these initiatives were driven by ADM’s staff from the official announcement date on May 29th, 2015 to the inaugural flight on September 29, 2015:
• Training ADM staff and airport partners such as Canada Customs, CATSA and restaurants/stores staff on China’s cultures, customs and traveling habits plus Air China product (sessions);
• Issuing of brochures in Mandarin on YUL’s multi-services;
• Hiring of Mandarin speaking customer service agents to facilitate the traveling experience to all new Chinese passengers;
• Interacting with the Government of Québec, Transport Canada and the CTA on supporting Air China with special operational issues and language policies;
• Organizing meetings with federal and provincial governments, business leaders, cargo, trade and tourism associations to maximize their awareness of Air China’s product;
• Preparing for Air China staff an implementation manual on YUL’s operation policies, IT requirements and partners (groundhandlers, CBSA, catering, de-icing, plus lists of hotels, bus companies, advertising agencies, etc.) to ensure a smooth start;
• Investing in a very attractive advertising plan in Québec and China with the financial support of Tourisme Québec, Destination Canada and Tourisme Montréal;
• Setting up activities such as a water cannon salute for a special ambiance in the terminal during the inaugural festivities.

Furthermore, ADM co-organized with Air China many inaugural activities such as:
• Press conferences in both cities attended by more than 200 people from all levels of governments from Canada, China, Québec and the City of Montréal;
• An exceptional gala dinner attended by 400 guests with the participation of many officials from the Chinese and Province of Québec Governments, the Mayor and other VIP. It featured a breathtaking performance of Chinese dancers and Montréal acrobats . (video attached).

3. Evaluation: 

This new partnership achieved above expectation results, with positive repercussions at the airport, on Québec’s economy and tourism industry:
• Since last September, traffic between Montréal and China increased by 85% to reach an average of 200 passengers/day. (attached graph);
• Sales at some of the airport stores such as the Duty Free more than doubled;
• According to Statscan, almost 10,600 tourists from China travelled directly to Québec from January to May 2016, a growth of 200% versus 2015 - the highest in Canada;
• Canada Customs’ 2016 First Quarter results shows that the number of Chinese students requesting a permit to study in Montréal grew from 76 to 251, a rise of 230%;
• As per the Journal the Montréal, an increased number of buyers from China are snapping up Montréal condos. At some downtown towers, they make up 80 % of the transactions (April 2016);
• Extensive media coverage, picked up by numerous international, national and local publications including the La Presse, The Gazette and the Globe & Mail. Plus executive officials appearances on various national and local TV stations;
• The new route has so far created 100 new jobs locally;
• Finally, our partnership was reinforced when last December Air China confirmed the addition of a YUL-Shanghai non-stop flight in 2016/2017.