“One virtue of a paradigm shifting event is that it teaches you things, Lucie Guillemette, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Air Canada, observes, before continuing: “We learned a tremendous amount, including the importance of being nimble and adaptable, how to let go of old ways of doing things and embrace the new, and it also reaffirmed the value of our people, who have been amazing throughout.” And Guillemette makes it abundantly clear that: “We could not have managed the pandemic anywhere near as well if at all without the agency community.”
Guillemette continued: “Early in the pandemic, we set up a team to look at different demand models. Part of the challenge was that up we largely relied on historical booking patterns, but we couldn’t any longer because the pandemic was unprecedented. So, we used new ways to infer future demand, including AI, machine learning and analytics to help us assess how the demand might return once restrictions were lifted.”
And she noted that: “One area we identified was visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traffic. To us, it was clear that we would be able to open those markets first and even expand them, such as our new flight to Cairo. Today VFR bookings are leading the recovery and we were prepared for that.”
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