New Route of the Day – Americas (2 October 2021): Air Canada between Vancouver and Orange County
John Wayne Airport Orange County (IATA code SNA) serving Santa Ana in California welcomed its first service from Air Canada on Saturday 2 October, when 4-weekly flights from Vancouver began. Choosing Saturday as the launch day could explain the apparent lack of interest by the airline and the airports involved in celebrating this new service. Oh well. The inaugural flight from Vancouver (flight number AC 598 operated by an Airbus A220-300, registration C-GJYE) departed Vancouver at 09:17 and touched down in Orange County two hours and 24 minutes later at 11:41. The return flight (AC 599) departed California at 13:11 and landed back in British Columbia two hours and 33 minutes later at 15:44 according to flightradar24.com.
Flights operate on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, mostly with Airbus A220-300s at present. Boeing 737 MAX 8s are set to operate on the route from December with frequency set to increase to daily in January (possibly). Competition comes from WestJet, who currently operate a 2-weekly service on the route, with frequency set to increase to 3-weekly in November, 4-weekly in January and daily from May 2022, although that may still change.
Fourth new airline at John Wayne in last 12 months
Air Canada joins Allegiant, Spirit and Sun Country in launching flights at the airport during the last year. The airport is restricted to the number of passengers it is allowed to handle each year, but last year approved a number of changes that allowed these carriers to begin operations at the airport. In August, the airport welcomed 831,522 passengers, which is 211% more than in August 2020 and only 12% fewer than in August 2019. The leading airlines at the airport in August were Southwest (356k pax), American (138k pax) and Alaska Airlines (106k pax).
John Wayne’s only other international routes at present are daily flights with Southwest to Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Del Cabo in Mexico. In addition, WestJet plans to introduce 3-weekly service from Calgary in November. It previously connected the two airports on a seasonal basis between July 2011 and October 2012.
Air Canada will be serving six airports in California by next summer
Orange County becomes the fourth airport in California to be served by Air Canada from Vancouver this October, joining Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. By next summer, the Star Alliance carrier also expects to be operating flights to Sacramento and San Jose, as it did before the pandemic.