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Air Canada is returning to Salt Lake City International Airport, offering daily flights to and from its global hub at Toronto beginning May 27.
"It gives Salt Lake City access to global markets that it did not otherwise have," Kevin Howlett, Air Canada's senior vice president for regional markets, said in an interview in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
"So a market like Salt Lake City can say, I am one stop away from Istanbul. I am one stop away from Tel Aviv. Those are huge economic enablers," he said.
The once-daily flight to Toronto will be timed so as to allow easy connections across the ocean or anywhere in Canada, he said. Return flights also are timed to connect easily from other global flights.
Air Canada serves 200 airports on six continents, and is the largest foreign carrier serving the United States now at 53 U.S. cities.
Howlett said he realizes that as a Delta hub, Salt Lake City has access through its non-stop flights to places such as Paris, London and Amsterdam, Netherlands. He said Air Canada will offer competing options, plus additional ones.
"Our presence on a daily basis to Toronto gives you access to Rome, Milan, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest" and many others, he said.
Making connections in Toronto is easy, said Howlett.
"A simple way of putting it is it's like a domestic connection, just passport control." He adds, "You don't have to reclaim your bag. You don't have to be rescreened," and all flights are in the same terminal.
Flights from Salt Lake to Toronto will be on an Embraer 190 aircraft, with 97 seats including nine that are in a First Class cabin.
"We have a major international expansion underway," and the new Salt Lake flight is part of it, Howlett said. "We have brought on, and will continue to bring on, new international destinations."
For example in May, it is also beginning flights from Toronto to Portland, Ore.; Washington, D.C.; and Jacksonville, Fla. This spring, it is also adding flights from Montreal to Denver, Houston and Philadelphia, and flights from Vancouver, Canada, to Chicago, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.
It is also expanding service to such places as Casablanca, Morocco; Leon, France; and Brisbane, Australia.
Howlett said that in conversations with Utah leaders and people in the travel trade, they have expressed hopes that Air Canada may someday add non-stop service between Salt Lake City and Vancouver, Canada where the airline has a hub for Asian and Australian flights.
"I think the trick here from a business perspective is let's make Toronto work first," he said.
Howlett said Air Canada previously was in the Salt Lake market and offered flights to Toronto, but that ended about 10 years ago.