Air Canada To Start Regional Bus Feeder-Service To Toronto Pearson Airport

Credit: Air Canada

Air Canada has entered into a capacity purchase agreement with Landline–the U.S. company that connects airports via motorcoaches–to operate regional service to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) from two nearby Ontario airports.

From both Kitchner/Waterloo Airport (YKF) and Hamilton International Airport (YHM), Landline will offer 6X-weekly service to YYZ aboard high-end buses bearing Air Canada’s livery. Service will begin in May.

The motorcoaches will have 36 airline-style seats in a two-by-one configuration with 36 in. legroom, tray tables and high-speed wi-fi. 

Landline operates regional feeder service for U.S. carriers American Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and United Airlines, connecting smaller airports to hubs such as Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Newark. As with its contracts with U.S. carriers, Landline will operate as a de facto regional airline, with its legs part of Air Canada itineraries and included when passengers book flights—much as Jazz Aviation operates Air Canada flights with regional jets.

Passengers will be able to check in at YKF and YHM and get their boarding pass for their YYZ-departing flight. Checked bags, transported in the belly of the bus, are transferred to aircraft without passenger involvement. Passengers will go directly to security after being dropped off at YYZ.

“We are looking to extend our regional network, but in some local markets demand at this point is insufficient to support regular air service,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick says. “As well, in markets such as this, the relatively short distance to our global hub in Toronto makes flying impractical.”

Both YHM and YKF are about a 1 hr. drive from YYZ.

“It's a great way for very low cost for Air Canada to add additional feed into the Pearson hub,” Landline VP and Head of Revenue Nick Johnson told Aviation Week Network. “We know from catchment data that thousands of people were driving from Hamilton and Kitchener to Pearson every day and so this is just a way to get those passengers on airline-branded service taking Air Canada all the way.”

He adds: “Also, similar to the U.S., Canada has a regional aircraft and regional pilot shortage. So, this is a way for them to grow their network without necessarily allocating scarce pilot and aircraft resources for short-haul missions.”

YHM Executive Managing Director Cole Horncastle says in a statement that “being able to connect into Air Canada's global network via a luxury motorcoach service opens up access to dozens of exciting new destinations while providing the consistent customer experience our passengers know and trust.”

Air Canada is calling the YHM and YKF Landline services a pilot program to be used to evaluate further motorcoach routes. “We see potential for extending this service to other communities in the future, but this is a pilot at this stage,” Fitzpatrick says.

Johnson says Landline sees further opportunities in Canada, the U.S. and other countries. “We've shown in the United States that this works,” he explains. “Step one is just proving out the model, getting reps in. The teams at Landline and Air Canada are focused on making this work. But assuming it does, there's a lot of potential across Canada for expansion.”

He adds the company is in talks with other airlines about Landline services. “We're evaluating new partners and working with existing partners to scale operations across the U.S. and beyond,” Johnson says. “Canada is our first international market, but it definitely won't be the last.”

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.


1 Comment
The unfortunate thing here is that the buses will offer much more comfortable accommodations on a more regular service than the airlines they are serving.