Air Canada launches Atlanta to Montreal route

Air Canada airplane arrives at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport moments after Officials from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Air Canada celebrate Air Canada's resumption of nonstop service between Atlanta and Montreal on Wednesday June 1, 2022. The last time Air Canada had a connection between the two cities was in 2008. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Air Canada airplane arrives at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport moments after Officials from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Air Canada celebrate Air Canada's resumption of nonstop service between Atlanta and Montreal on Wednesday June 1, 2022. The last time Air Canada had a connection between the two cities was in 2008. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Air Canada launched flights from Atlanta to Montreal on Wednesday, marking a rare expansion of international service even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect international travel.

Air travel is rebounding in the United States after more than two years of pandemic-depressed demand. Vacationers are more willing to fly, though business travel and many international routes have been slower to rebound than domestic leisure travel.

Airport, airline and Canadian Consulate officials gathered at Hartsfield-Jackson International’s international terminal to mark the inaugural departure, which was delayed for nearly an hour but eventually took off from Atlanta just after 4 p.m.

Montreal is the second route for Air Canada out of Hartsfield-Jackson. The airline relaunched service to Atlanta last year from Toronto after Canada reopened to travel from the U.S.

Delta Air Lines also operates flights from Atlanta to Montreal.

Now, Montreal-based Air Canada will operate four daily flights to Toronto and two daily flights to Montreal. The last time Air Canada flew the Atlanta-Montreal route was in the early 2000s.

“Travel is picking up and we are returning to our new normal,” said Jan Lennon, Hartsfield-Jackson’s general manager of operations.

David Wiener, Quebec Delegate to the Southeastern U.S., said the Atlanta-Montreal route links “two cities that are very cosmopolitan.”

The flights are expected to be popular for business travelers in the aerospace industry and automotive industry, two key sectors for Quebec and for the Southeast. It can also connect those in the film industry who film in Georgia and do post-production in Quebec, another industry focus there.

Some travelers from Atlanta also connect in Montreal to cities in Europe that don’t have nonstop flights from Atlanta, he said.

“This is a testament to our commitment to the Atlanta community,” said Air Canada manager of revenue management Sebastian Domanski.

While the COVID-19 pandemic stunted international travel and COVID-19 testing is still required for passengers flying to the United States, the number of people traveling to other countries is rebounding.

“The demand is there,” Wiener said.