Prost! Air Canada, GNTO, visitBerlin toast new route

Air Canada bid a warm ‘Guten Tag’ to Berlin at an event in Toronto’s Distillery District last night held to celebrate the launch of its new direct route between the two cities. The evening, hosted in conjunction with the Germany National Tourist Office (GNTO) and visitBerlin, toasted the first non-stop service between Canada and Berlin.

Duncan Bureau, vice president, global sales, Air Canada, told PAX that the new service – which will be operated by Air Canada Rouge – not only opened up new markets for the airline, but also provided an opportunity for more Canadian travellers to experience the sights and sounds of Germany.

“If you think about our U.S. sixth freedom traffic [the right to fly from a foreign country to another while stopping in one’s own country for non-technical reasons], the amount of markets that we’re opening up with a one-stop into Berlin connecting over Toronto is significant,” he commented. “But on top of that, we have a lot of Canadians who want to go and experience Berlin – it’s a phenomenal destination.”

Bureau also said that he expected the new route would increase travel from Germany to North America. “We think it’s another opportunity for those in Germany who want to come and experience Canada, or go beyond Canada and into the U.S., touching our network,” he added.

Duncan Bureau, vice president, global sales, Air Canada, speaking at the event.

The GNTO’s director in Canada, Antje Splettstoesser, said that the new service would provide a more convenient route for Canadian travellers into Berlin, which already registers among the most popular destinations in Germany for travel from Canada.

“For the past years, we have always been seeing that the most overnights that we record from Canada are actually going into Berlin already,” she told PAX, “even though the direct flights right now are only into Munich and Frankfurt.”

That’s not to say, however, that Berlin will be the only German destination that benefits from the new route. “We do see this as the best opportunity to give travellers the very convenient direct flight experience and explore Berlin,” Splettstoesser added, “but also the surrounding cities; it’s not only Berlin – it’s also the destinations around it.

“With four flights weekly, and 289 passengers – that will give us a big boost.”

Montreal-based artist Guillaume Lapointe with the graffiti wall built specially for the occasion.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Schmidt, public relations and marketing consultant for visitBerlin, said she hoped the new route would convince more Canadians to join the growing numbers of travellers visiting the city.

“We have increases every year for the last decade or even more,” she commented. “VisitBerlin is very excited to welcome Air Canada Rouge to the city, and of course a non-stop from Canada – we are hoping to see even more Canadians in Berlin.”

To mark the launch of the new flight, the hosts also presented a graffitied, Germany-themed wall, the vision of Montreal-based artist Guillaume Lapointe – which was then dismantled, and its pieces presented to each member of the crowd, with German gifts inside.

“It’s not time to build walls,” said Splettstoesser, “it’s time to bring them down.”

Air Canada’s non-stop service between Toronto and Berlin launches on June 1.

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