In 2021, Air Transat opted for the solution powered by Dohop to facilitate virtual interlining. Dohop technology is powering other leading global interconnection initiatives, including Worldwide by easyJet and Jetstar Connect. Air Transat launched “connectair by Air Transat” in November last year, initially in partnership with British airline easyJet and Colombian airline Avianca.
Since its launch, Air Transat has added a host of other partners, including Azores Airlines, Aegean, Air North, Loganair, Pascan, SKY express and Vueling. The partnerships mean Air Transat passengers can easily connect to these other carriers with a single reservation, expanding Air Transat’s network to over 240 additional destinations.
Thanks to connectair, Air Transat passengers can connect directly to other low-cost carriers, such as easyJet. Photo: Airbus
Simple Flying caught up with Michèle Barre, Vice-President, Network, Revenue Management and Pricing at Air Transat, to learn more about connectair by Air Transat and why the airline embarked on this adventure.
Focus on partnerships
Air Transat has focused heavily on partnerships to offer more destinations to its customers and strengthen its network. The airline shares the code with WestJet and has a partnership with French rail company SNCF for its Train+Air service. But connectair is something new and exciting, and it’s a world away from traditional partnerships and codeshares, as Michèle Barre explained:
“With the technology powered by Dohop, it is very easy for us to add new partners to this platform as the API does the work of connecting the two airlines’ offer. It only takes a few weeks to activate a partner, whereas it can take months for other types of airline partnerships to materialize. For our business, and especially in this time of recovery, this means less development on the IT side, maximum profitability and, ultimately, additional revenue for our airline.
The platform even has a bespoke website to make it easy to book connecting flights. Photo: Air Transat
Dohop’s platform is what is called “virtual leading”. It bypasses the traditional Global Distribution System (GDS) and allows reservations to be made through an API. The benefit of this is a lead time of just a few days to add a new airline partner, rather than the weeks or months that are typical with a GDS or interline codeshare. Barre thinks it has many benefits for the industry as a whole, commenting,
“This type of partnership is also very valuable for the airline industry as our IT systems are traditionally ultra-complex. With virtual interfacing, the API handles all communications and simplifies the process, allowing us to build partnerships easily and quickly. Another added benefit is our ability to fill our aircraft on a specific route with a diversity of routes, and not rely solely on point-to-point demand.
How successful is connectair by Air Transat?
The connectair platform is less than a year old and has already been popular with many Air Transat guests. Barre noted that more than 2,800 passengers have already used the virtual interlining platform for their journeys and that London Gatwick is the destination currently carrying the most Dohop passengers.
In terms of the people they connect with, easyJet is the best partner, thanks to its extensive European network. Vueling, SKY Express and Avianca were also popular, but Europe is the region most frequented by interline travellers. The final destinations of these passengers are most often Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Barre commented,
“connectair by Air Transat currently allows us to expand our number of origin destinations to more than 1,000 across Canada, Europe, Central and South America, North Africa and the Middle East, these the latter two being new markets that Air Transat does not yet cover on its own.We are also in discussions with other partners to add to our platform in order to offer even more destinations to our customers.
Connecting to destinations not currently served by Air Transat is simple thanks to the interline virtual platform. Photo: SKY Express
So, would Transat seek to operate a direct route that is not currently in its network, if the virtual interline showed strong demand for this route? Barre says it’s not on the radar at the moment and the airline is more focused on providing customers with access to destinations it doesn’t fly itself. This is not to say that the intelligence provided by connectiar is not useful, but at present it is used more to build additional partnerships for the future.
How does it actually work?
Just like Worldwide by easyJet or any other interline virtual platform, connectiar by Air Transat allows passengers to book a single itinerary that crosses multiple airlines. This means that if they want to take an unusual route – think Quebec to Marrakech, for example – they can do it with a single booking.
It’s not as convenient as a codeshare. Each flight must be checked in individually and baggage must be collected and rechecked at the transfer airport. However, it does mean that passengers can benefit from connecting low-cost airline to low-cost airline, which is not widely available through traditional alliances and codeshares.
The booking process allows passengers to see what’s included with each airline, each carrier’s baggage policies, and even select a seat for their flight.
The beauty of the connection is that it is guaranteed by Dohop. If a flight is delayed or canceled, Dohop will find another flight for the passenger on the same day. If the next flight does not depart until the next day, Dohop will accommodate the passenger in a hotel and fund meals. Barre summed up the benefits of the program saying:
“Air Transat aims to give people access to travel and to ensure that their trip is as pleasant as possible throughout their journey. This includes offering a plethora of destinations to choose from and this is also where Dohop’s technology comes in. With Air Transat’s connectair, we are able to offer 240 additional destinations to our customers in simply connecting our network to our partners through our platform.
Air Transat’s interline service is a key focus for the airline going forward, and we’ll likely see many more partners added in the months and years to come. And it’s not just airline partners that the Canadian airline is looking for – intermodality, allowing connections to trains, buses, ferries and more, is also high on the agenda, and something that is entirely possible to accomplish via a platform like connectair.
Have you ever used Air Transat’s connectair or any other virtual interlining platform? Let us know your experiences in the comments.