Air Canada & Virgin Australia Announce New Strategic Partnership

Filed Under: Air Canada, Virgin Australia

One major trend we’ve seen among global airlines the past few years is that the major alliances have become less important, while individual partnerships and joint ventures have become much more important.

For example, I suspect Qantas’ joint venture with Emirates is about as significant to them as their membership in oneworld. Arguably the same could be said about Delta’s participation in SkyTeam compared to the individual joint ventures they have, largely with airlines that aren’t even in SkyTeam.

As a result we’re seeing a lot more partnerships that go beyond the global alliances. Well, the latest such partnership has just been announced.

Air Canada and Virgin Australia have just announced a new strategic partnership that will see the airlines codesharing on many routes, and also introducing reciprocal benefits for frequent flyers. This is especially interesting since Virgin Australia already has a transpacific joint venture with Delta.


I think the basic problem this partnership is solving is that Air Canada flies from Vancouver to both Sydney and Brisbane on a daily basis (and rumor has it that they may want to add more flights to Australia), though they don’t have a Star Alliance partner in Australia. That means there are very few options for passengers to connect to other domestic flights within Australia on the same ticket.


The first stage of this partnership is a codeshare agreement that will be implemented in early 2017. Through this, Air Canada customers will be able to book travel on a single ticket to 10 additional cities throughout Australia and New Zealand, including flights to Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Cairns, Christchurch, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Wellington. Members traveling on these flights will be able to earn Aeroplan miles, the details of which will be revealed soon.

Similarly, Virgin Australia flies to Los Angeles, so passengers traveling there will be able to take Virgin Australia codeshare flights on Air Canada to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. I think it goes without saying that Virgin Australia’s biggest transpacific partner will continue to be Delta.

However, there’s more to this partnership. In a subsequent stage, the two airlines plan on offering reciprocal frequent flyer redemption benefits on each other’s flights, and also Virgin Australia plans to codeshare on Air Canada’s flights between Australia and Canada.

Air-Canada-777-Business-Class - 70

Bottom line

While this partnership may seem unconventional at first, it’s brilliant, as it helps Air Canada solve the problem of not being able to sell tickets far beyond their Australian gateways. While the partnership is starting off slow, long term I think we could see this grow very nicely, especially if Air Canada adds more destinations in Australia.

I’m also excited at the prospect of redeeming Aeroplan miles on Virgin Australia transpacific flights. I wonder how Delta will feel about this partnership long term…

  1. I’m surprised Air Canada and Air NZ don’t work closer together on these routes given their both in Star and ANZ fly to Vancouver year round. With the exception of Canberra, you can fly to all of those destinations one stop through Auckland.

  2. When will Virgin get it together. I know Virgin America is now out of the question.

    But Virgin should just have one frequent flyer program that works with ease on VS & VA.

  3. I don’t know that this is entirely brilliant, at least the part with a third country involved and it’s the USA. That means an extra round of immigration and security, through a county that makes the process unduly miserable. Even US preclearance in Canada tends to hurt, and thought of few extra trips through TSA in LA? I think many people will take a pass.

  4. @B Canberra AND Hobart if you’re referring to Capital cities. We Tasmanians are used to being forgotten 😉

  5. @B- Air Canada flies to Sydney and Brisbane. They need help filling those planes. That’s what this would do. Helping fill Air New Zealand’s YVR-AKL route doesn’t help fill Air Canada’s own routes to Australia at all. Air Canada gets way more revenue by filling its own planes than it does by filling the planes of a partner. While I’m sure they like Air New Zealand, Air Canada would much prefer the passsenger going from YVR to Adelaide or Perth to fly on Air Canada to Australia and then connect rather than on Air New Zealabd to Auckland then connect. Bottom line is that Air Canada’s first priority is to see its own routes succeed first and foremost.

    @lucky- air Canada can already sell tickets beyond their gateways with their interline agreements. This just makes it more attractive. But they didn’t NEED a codeshare to do so. Just interline agreements. United can do this already, has been able to do so for a long time. So can air Canada

  6. Unrelated, but Singapore Airlines is beginning service to Stockholm via Moscow from May next year:

    With the schedule of:
    SQ362 Departs Singapore 0020 Arrives Moscow 0600, Departs Moscow 0715 Arrives Stockholm 0825
    SQ361 Departs Stockholm 1025 Arrives Moscow 1330, Departs Moscow 1500 Arrives Singapore 0615+1 day

    Runs 5x weekly, (daily except Wednesdays and Sundays), operated by Airbus A350-900.

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