Hot on the heels of the announcement that SriLankan Airlines will re-enter the Australian market with a 4x weekly flight from Colombo to Melbourne, Air Canada have overnight done the same by announcing a new seasonal 4x weekly service to fly between Vancouver and Melbourne over the Christmas/Summer (northern winter) season.
According to reports on Australian Business Traveller, SriLankan Airlines - the flag-carrier airline of Sri Lanka - is expected to begin flights toward the end of the year.
The Vancouver-Melbourne service will be one of Air Canada's longest routes flown, tipping the scales at 16 hours according to its online booking engine. The return Melbourne-Vancouver flight is scheduled to take 14 hours and 50 minutes.
A lot of things affect actual flight time - weather en route and at the airports one of the most notable impacts - however the Air Canada block times are similar to flights between Melbourne & Los Angeles (14 hours 20 minutes to Los Angeles, 15 hours 45 minutes to Melbourne, from the Qantas timetable).
Despite the (far more) northerly location of Vancouver, Los Angeles' location further east from Australia results in a Great Circle distance difference of only 435 kilometres, hence the similar scheduled flight times.
The new Air Canada flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9, the same aircraft Qantas intends to use to fly the new Melbourne-Perth-London service from the end of the year.
When Boeing launched the 787 program last decade, it was billed as a 'hub-busting' aircraft that would allow airlines to start longer international routes from airports with smaller markets, even though the Melbourne international market has been growing handsomely ever since Boeing launched the 787 project.
The South American juggernaut, LATAM airline group, will also launch the airline's longest ever flight and Melbourne's first non-stop flight to South America in October, to be flown also by a 787-9. The 3x weekly Melbourne-Santiago flight has a scheduled flight time of 13 hours and the return journey from Chile has a block of 15 hours.
Anecdotal reports from Urban Melbourne staff and comments on across a wide variety of internet platforms over the past year point to a gate squeeze at Tullamarine for international flights.
It appears that the problem seems to be in the morning arrivals peak between 7am and 9am. Note that the new Air Canada service is scheduled to arrive at 9:30am and LATAM's Santiago flight is scheduled to arrive in the afternoon.
Things seem to have gone awfully, and worryingly, quiet on the expansion of Melbourne Airport's International T2 Terminal since September 2014 when a new look international terminal was previewed in a stakeholder presentation and last year when we noted T2 expansion was not present in the 2016 stakeholder presentation.
Lead image credit: flickr