Topic of the Week: Will Air Canada rouge Succeed?

Air Canada

Air Canada is getting closer and closer to the launch of its new low-cost, leisure airline, rouge. Last week, the airline announced “Air Canada rouge is taking a differentiated approach to leisure travel by focusing on customer service excellence through customized training and stylishly relaxed onboard apparel, both of which will contribute to a fresh, comfortable and vacation like environment for travellers.”

Uh yeah. Is this really what you want to focus on? Anyone here think rouge is destined for success? Failure?

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42 comments on “Topic of the Week: Will Air Canada rouge Succeed?

  1. I don’t know if it will make a difference or not to them being financially successful, but I like the uniforms, and I think the tail of the plane looks great! (I like it better than the regular Air Canada tail.)

    1. I’m going to disagree with the masses. Marketing nonsense aside, I think this actually will work.

      AC already competes WestJet, Air Transat, etc. on these routes. Presumably they lose money hand over fist due to their legacy cost base and the lack of premium cabin traffic.

      Rather than withdraw from these markets entirely (which might be the best plan) they’re shifting them to a lower-cost subsidiary. It’s similar to what LH is doing with Germanwings on their non-FRA/MUC domestic routes. Tango and Zip, in contrast, competed on routes also served by mainline AC. As long as Rouge loses less money than the current service management can spin it as a victory.

      The uniforms are ridiculous of course, but at least Rouge will have young and enthusiastic FAs like Porter instead of the rather sour old matrons I usually get on AC. I doubt many of them will be wearing the fedora though.

          1. If Air Canada were United they could call the new thing Nada — kinda like the chance it will succeed (as Ted did — NOT!)

  2. As long as they don’t have to compete directly with US carriers on routes at airports close to the border they will have a better chance to succeed.

    1. OK here’s the deal. 90% or so of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the US border. Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver all have legitimate alternative airports in the US just over that border. So, unless Rouge plans on making Fort McMUrray a major hub, then your theory goes all to h….

      1. Vancouver, Toronto (especially), Montreal all have large, international airport. While some do go to the U.S. to fly out of places like Bellingham, Buffalo, it is not a huge hit to the air traffic. Similar to people who elect to fly out of Milwaukee instead of O’Hare.

    2. Americans don’t seem to understand this:
      It’s not Canadian taxes that causes Canadians to drive across the border and board flights in the USA, it’s US taxes. On an international flight there are a heap of taxes imposed on international arrivals which are avoided by driving across the border. There aren’t cheap holiday flights to Mexico from BUF/BLI/PBG, because it’s only US destinations where it makes a difference.

  3. I think Canada is a different market for these things than the US. I imagine the Snow bird market will make significant use of this sort of seasonal service, focused on leisure travelers. The argument that people will drive across the border ignores that there are significant populations in Canada where that realistically isn’t an option, atleast not with the sort of leisure destinations rouge is offering.

    1. There are plenty of airlines that serve the Canadian leisure market, including Westjet, Sunwing, and Air Transat. AC is going to have go up against these guys.

      It’s like American or Delta creating a unit to compete with Allegiant. Not going to work, methinks. Especially when they are talking about “customer service”. On leisure routes? Pretty much it’s 1) low fares 2) low fares and 3) low fares.

      Spirit treats their customers like dirt and they make money at it. In that market, customer service really doesn’t matter.

  4. If it’s leisure travel, that means cheap prices and we know how well that has worked for legacy carriers in the past with an airline within an airline. Long gone are the days of taking a cheap flight to say Luxembourg to begin your big European holiday on a stretched DC-8.

    There are to many airlines flying to tourist destinations for Air Canada to come alone and out price or get business because of what F/A’s are wearing.

    But good luck to them.

  5. I guess since epic fail isn’t a choice, I’ll just go with plain old, regular failure.

    Methinks we have another Ted on our hands.

  6. “stylishly relaxed onboard apparel, both of which will contribute to a fresh, comfortable and vacation like environment for travelers”

    So normal Air Canada passengers will get “ugly stressful onboard apparel, both of which will contribute to a stale, uncomfortable and prison like environment for travelers” – Sad that Air Canada needs a new airline to offer a better passenger experience.

    1. Ick. What’s worse than hipsters are “hipsters” created by corporate marketing/branding types. AC, stop. Please.

  7. Brett, sounds just like British Airways’ GO. We supplied BA the template for GO, and it was executed perfectly by Barbara Cassani with her expert touch and passion. Problem, conflict of interest (economic and attention) and it was eventually sold to easyJet. Reasons given were BA’s need to focus on core service but “….it was also apparent that GO was cannibalising British Airways, attracting customers from the core business.” wikipedia Rouge won’t work either.

  8. Not likely to be a success. Airline within an airline usually fail. Looks like a project of experts or outside contractors who have little real knowledge of the product. Stick to what you do Air Canada. Do it well, pay your employees and have respect for them and your customers. The business model is simple, it just gets messed up my pencil pushers and bean counters. I agree, it will go the way of Ted, Song, and many others.

  9. I didn’t check out the link this morning when I commented until now after reading some comments on the uniforms.

    Wow, are those left over clothes from senior geek day in high school?

    Now I get the Justin Timberlake comment… Maybe add Bruno Mars also, he wears those hats too.

  10. 29″ pitch on the A319s and 30″ on the 767s in economy? Wowzer that’s tight, and these aren’t short flights. All this talk about a stylish appearance is obviously marketing spin. Cramming that many passengers in sure should push their seat mile costs down.

  11. I don’t look favorably upon the prospects. This reminds me of the ‘United Rising’ campaign of many years ago. Customer Service Excellence and comfort (with 29 or 30 inch seat pitch) are oxymorons for any carrier based in North America. The fact that Rouge is already obviously over promising what they can actually deliver is not a good way to start off, and it like just about all North American Carriers, can be expected to go down hill from there. I think Rouge would be much better off reducing customer expectations to what they expect to be able to delivery (which is probably very little), and coming closer to emulating Allegiant or Spirit.

    If the customer is driven almost exclusively by low fare, why advertise anything else (especially when you are unlikely to be able to deliver anything else)…

  12. The whole thing is stupid. They should offer two classes of service. Second class with crappy seats and no amenities, plus another class with a place to put your knees and maybe get a cup of coffee.

  13. Judging by the last couple of Air Canada’s venture into LLC such as “ZiP” and “TANGO” it does not look good. a uniform does not make an airline.
    They are trying to get Transat passengers, which btw has a great uniform and not so bad service. I will give it two years maximum before it folds up.

  14. I fly AC Rouge on May 15th. Horrid, no leg room and worse no entertainment, not even a map or a clock. The three people in my row will never fly AC rouge again, I figure 1/4 to a 1/3rd of the plane will never fly them again.

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