Air Canada, Air China agree to new joint venture
Air Canada has announced the signing of a new joint venture with Air China as it looks to significantly expand its presence in the fast-growing Chinese market.
“The Sino-Canada market is one of the important long-haul markets to Air China, which has been developed rapidly in recent years with an increase of 17.8% in 2017,” said Jiangjiang Cai, Chairman or Air China.
Off the back of this growth, China is forecast to become the most substantial air travel market by 2022, with Canada’s biggest airliner now well positioned to capitalize on this growth having signed the world’s first China-North America airline joint venture.
“Our joint venture agreement with Air China, the highly respected flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, is an important strategy in our global expansion,” said Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President & CEO.
“Having served China for more than 30 years, and as demonstrated by Air Canada's average annual capacity growth of 12.5% over five years and the $2bn of aircraft assets currently committed on routes between Canada and China, China is an integral part of our global network.”
The latest announcement expands the existing codeshare agreement between the two airliners, increasing the number of Canada-China connecting flight opportunities for 564 customers each day.
In the past two years the two firms have launched Beijing-Montreal and Shanghai-Montreal direct flight routes, now operating up to 52 connecting flights in total between China and Canada on a weekly basis.
Further, in celebration of the deep ties between the two nations, 2018 was dubbed the Canada-China Year of Tourism by both countries - a year that will see a record number of Chinese visitors travelling to Canada.
“Air Canada is honoured to formalize this strategic partnership with Air China during the Canada-China Year of Tourism to offer customers travelling between our two countries an unparalleled network and expansive options for travel ease,” Rovinescu said.
The joint venture will now be phased in over the course of the next six months, providing Air Canada and Air China customers with a wider range of services, allowing for greater choice, flexibility and ease of travel.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”