Air Canada: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023 (2024)

In this blog article, we will delve into an in-depth analysis of Air Canada's business model, conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to gain valuable insights into the airline's current position and future prospects. As a leading player in the aviation industry, we will also explore Air Canada's main competitors and how it is positioned to tackle the challenges of the highly competitive landscape in 2023. Get ready to explore the key factors that will shape Air Canada's success in the coming years.

What You Will Learn:

  • Who owns Air Canada and the structure of its ownership.
  • The mission statement of Air Canada and its key objectives.
  • How Air Canada generates revenue and the strategies it employs to make money.
  • An explanation of the Air Canada Business Model Canvas and how it is applied.
  • The main competitors of Air Canada and their impact on the company's market position.
  • A SWOT analysis of Air Canada, including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Who owns Air Canada?

Overview of Air Canada's Ownership Structure

Air Canada is a leading Canadian airline and one of the largest airlines in the world. As a publicly traded company, it is important to understand the ownership structure of Air Canada. This section will provide an overview of the major shareholders and stakeholders involved in the ownership of Air Canada.


1. Institutional Investors

Institutional investors play a significant role in the ownership of Air Canada. These investors include pension funds, mutual funds, and other financial institutions. Some of the notable institutional investors holding shares in Air Canada include BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. These institutional investors hold a substantial number of shares and have a significant influence on the airline's strategic decisions.

2. Individual Shareholders

Individual shareholders also own a portion of Air Canada. These shareholders can be retail investors or employees who have invested in the company's stock. While their individual holdings may be relatively small, collectively, they contribute to the overall ownership structure of Air Canada.

Government Ownership

1. Canadian Government

Historically, the Canadian government had a significant ownership stake in Air Canada. However, over the years, the government has reduced its ownership and currently holds a minority stake. The Canadian government's involvement in Air Canada is primarily through regulatory oversight and policy-making rather than direct ownership.

2. Provincial Governments

In addition to the Canadian government, some provincial governments in Canada also hold a stake in Air Canada. For example, the Quebec government has a notable ownership interest through its investment arm, Investissem*nt Québec. These provincial governments often invest in Air Canada to support local economic development and maintain air connectivity.

Employee Ownership

Air Canada has an employee share purchase program, allowing its employees to become shareholders of the company. This program aims to align the interests of employees with those of the company and foster a sense of ownership and loyalty among the workforce.


The ownership of Air Canada is diverse, with institutional investors, individual shareholders, and government entities all having a stake in the airline. While institutional investors hold a significant portion of the shares, the Canadian government's ownership has decreased over time. Furthermore, employee ownership plays a role in fostering a sense of ownership and commitment among Air Canada's workforce. Understanding the ownership structure is crucial to comprehending the factors that shape the airline's decision-making and strategic direction.

What is the mission statement of Air Canada?

The Mission Statement of Air Canada: Delivering safe, reliable, and customer-centric air travel experiences

Air Canada, Canada's largest airline, has a clear and concise mission statement that reflects its commitment to providing exceptional air travel experiences to its customers. The mission statement of Air Canada is to deliver safe, reliable, and customer-centric air travel experiences.

Prioritizing Safety

As a responsible airline, Air Canada places safety at the forefront of its operations. The mission statement emphasizes the company's dedication to ensuring the safety and security of its passengers and employees. By adhering to rigorous safety standards, investing in modern aircraft, and implementing comprehensive training programs, Air Canada aims to create a safe environment for all stakeholders.

Reliability as a Pillar

Air Canada recognizes the importance of reliability in the airline industry. Its mission statement highlights the airline's commitment to delivering on-time departures and arrivals, minimizing disruptions, and providing a seamless travel experience. By focusing on operational efficiency, Air Canada aims to build trust and confidence among its passengers, ensuring they can rely on the airline for their travel needs.

Customer-Centric Approach

The mission statement of Air Canada underscores its dedication to putting the customer at the heart of its operations. The airline strives to exceed customer expectations by offering personalized services, enhancing in-flight experiences, and providing exceptional customer service throughout the journey. By continuously listening to customer feedback and adapting to evolving needs, Air Canada aims to create memorable and enjoyable travel experiences for its passengers.

In summary, Air Canada's mission statement focuses on three key pillars: safety, reliability, and a customer-centric approach. By prioritizing these aspects, the airline aims to be the preferred choice for travelers, offering them a safe, dependable, and enjoyable journey.

How does Air Canada make money?

Passenger revenue

The main source of revenue for Air Canada is passenger revenue. This includes the fares paid by passengers for their flights. Air Canada operates both domestic and international flights, serving millions of passengers each year. The airline offers various ticket classes and services, allowing passengers to choose the level of comfort and amenities they desire. Additionally, Air Canada offers several ancillary services, such as seat selection, checked baggage fees, and onboard food and beverage purchases, which contribute to its passenger revenue.

Cargo revenue

Air Canada also generates revenue through its cargo operations. The airline has dedicated cargo aircraft and utilizes the belly space of its passenger aircraft to transport goods and packages. This includes perishable items, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and other high-value cargo. Air Canada Cargo offers a range of services, such as express shipments, temperature-controlled transportation, and specialized handling for fragile or oversized items. The revenue generated from transporting cargo contributes to the overall profitability of the airline.

Loyalty program

Air Canada's loyalty program, Aeroplan, plays a significant role in generating revenue for the airline. Aeroplan allows members to earn miles when flying with Air Canada or its partner airlines, as well as through various non-airline partners such as credit card companies, hotels, and car rental agencies. Members can redeem these miles for flights, upgrades, hotel stays, merchandise, and other rewards. Air Canada generates revenue by selling miles to partners and through the redemption fees paid by members. The loyalty program not only incentivizes customer loyalty but also serves as an additional revenue stream for the airline.

Ancillary revenue

In addition to passenger fares, Air Canada generates ancillary revenue from various sources. This includes fees charged for services such as preferred seat selection, extra baggage, onboard Wi-Fi, and in-flight entertainment. Air Canada also earns revenue from selling travel insurance, duty-free products, and advertising space on its aircraft and in its inflight magazines. These additional sources of revenue contribute to the overall financial performance of the airline.

Other sources of revenue

Air Canada diversifies its revenue streams by offering services beyond passenger and cargo operations. The airline provides aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services to other airlines, generating revenue through contracts and service agreements. Air Canada also earns revenue from leasing aircraft to other airlines and through its vacation packages and tour operator business. These additional sources of revenue help to mitigate the impact of fluctuations in the passenger travel market and provide a more stable income for the airline.

In conclusion, Air Canada generates revenue primarily through passenger fares and cargo operations. The loyalty program, ancillary services, and other sources of revenue further contribute to the airline's financial success. By diversifying its income streams and offering a range of services, Air Canada ensures a more robust financial position in the aviation industry.

Air Canada Business Model Canvas Explained


The Air Canada Business Model Canvas provides a comprehensive overview of how the airline operates and generates revenue. It allows us to understand the key components of Air Canada's business model and how they interact with each other.

Key Partnerships

Air Canada has established key partnerships with various entities to enhance its operations. These partnerships include aircraft manufacturers, fuel suppliers, maintenance service providers, and global distribution systems. By collaborating with these partners, Air Canada is able to ensure a seamless travel experience for its customers and maintain the highest safety standards.

Key Activities

Air Canada's key activities revolve around providing airline services to its customers. This includes flight operations, aircraft maintenance and servicing, passenger handling, cargo handling, and ground operations. In addition, Air Canada invests heavily in technology and innovation to improve its overall efficiency and customer experience.

Key Resources

Air Canada's key resources include its fleet of aircraft, airport facilities, IT infrastructure, and highly skilled workforce. The airline continuously invests in maintaining and expanding its fleet to cater to the growing demand for air travel. Its airport facilities are strategically located to ensure efficient operations and maximize customer convenience.

Value Proposition

Air Canada's value proposition lies in its ability to provide safe, reliable, and comfortable air travel services. The airline offers a wide range of destinations, convenient flight schedules, and various travel classes to cater to different customer segments. Air Canada also focuses on enhancing the overall travel experience by offering amenities such as in-flight entertainment, onboard Wi-Fi, and premium lounges.

Customer Segments

Air Canada serves a diverse range of customer segments, including business travelers, leisure travelers, and cargo shippers. The airline tailors its services to meet the specific needs and preferences of each segment. For example, business travelers may require flexible flight schedules and access to business amenities, while leisure travelers may prioritize affordability and vacation packages.


Air Canada utilizes various channels to reach its customers and facilitate bookings. These include its official website, mobile app, travel agencies, online travel agencies, and call centers. By providing multiple booking options, Air Canada ensures maximum convenience for customers and reaches a wider audience.

Customer Relationships

Air Canada strives to build and maintain strong relationships with its customers. The airline invests in customer service training for its staff to ensure a positive and personalized experience for passengers. Additionally, Air Canada utilizes customer feedback and data analytics to continuously improve its services and address customer concerns.

Revenue Streams

Air Canada generates revenue through multiple streams, including passenger ticket sales, cargo services, ancillary services (such as baggage fees and onboard sales), and loyalty programs. The airline's revenue model is designed to diversify its income sources and maximize profitability.

Cost Structure

Air Canada's cost structure includes expenses related to aircraft operations, fuel, personnel, maintenance, airport fees, marketing, and technology investments. The airline focuses on cost management and efficiency measures to maintain a competitive advantage in the industry.


The Air Canada Business Model Canvas provides a holistic view of the airline's operations and revenue generation strategies. It highlights the key components that contribute to Air Canada's success in the highly competitive aviation industry. By understanding these elements, we can appreciate the complexity of Air Canada's business model and its ability to consistently deliver value to its customers.

Which companies are the competitors of Air Canada?

Major Competitors

Air Canada, being one of the largest airlines in Canada, faces stiff competition from several other major airlines both within and outside the country. Some of its main competitors include:

  1. WestJet: Based in Calgary, Alberta, WestJet is one of Air Canada's biggest rivals in the Canadian market. It operates an extensive network of domestic and international routes, offering both leisure and business travel options. Known for its low-cost model and excellent customer service, WestJet has gained a significant market share and poses a strong competition to Air Canada.

  2. Porter Airlines: Operating primarily out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Porter Airlines focuses on offering short-haul flights within Canada and select destinations in the United States. With its distinctive service features like complimentary in-flight snacks, spacious seating, and a convenient downtown location, Porter Airlines has managed to carve out a niche market and compete directly with Air Canada on certain routes.

  3. Air Transat: As a leading leisure airline, Air Transat offers vacation packages and charter flights to numerous destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. While Air Canada also operates in the leisure travel segment, Air Transat's specialization and focus on popular holiday destinations make it a key competitor for Air Canada, particularly during peak vacation seasons.

International Competitors

Apart from domestic rivals, Air Canada faces competition from various international airlines that operate flights to and from Canada. Some notable international competitors include:

  1. Delta Air Lines: As one of the largest airlines in the world, Delta Air Lines is a significant competitor for Air Canada on transborder routes between Canada and the United States. With a vast network and extensive partnerships, Delta offers a wide range of options for travelers, often providing fierce competition to Air Canada in terms of routes, pricing, and service quality.

  2. American Airlines: Another major player in the North American aviation industry, American Airlines competes directly with Air Canada on transborder routes. With its vast network and frequent flyer program, American Airlines attracts a significant number of passengers traveling between Canada and the United States, challenging Air Canada's market share.

  3. British Airways: Operating flights to and from several Canadian cities, British Airways competes with Air Canada on international routes, particularly those connecting Canada to Europe. With its renowned service quality and extensive route network, British Airways appeals to both business and leisure travelers, posing a strong challenge to Air Canada's European operations.

Overall, Air Canada faces fierce competition from a range of domestic and international airlines, each vying for a share of the Canadian aviation market. The competitive landscape is continuously evolving, with airlines constantly adapting their strategies to attract passengers and maintain their market position.

Air Canada SWOT Analysis


  1. Strong Brand Image: Air Canada has established itself as a reputable and reliable airline brand, known for its quality service and commitment to safety. This strong brand image helps attract and retain customers, even in a highly competitive market.

  2. Extensive Network: Air Canada has one of the largest route networks, both domestically and internationally, offering flights to over 220 destinations worldwide. This extensive network allows the airline to serve a wide range of customers and provide convenient travel options.

  3. Modern Fleet: Air Canada operates a modern fleet of aircraft, which not only enhances passenger comfort but also improves fuel efficiency and reduces operational costs. This gives the airline a competitive advantage in terms of offering a superior flying experience.

  4. Strong Alliances: Air Canada has formed strategic alliances with other major airlines, such as Star Alliance, which allows it to offer customers a wider range of destinations and seamless connections. These alliances also enable Air Canada to benefit from shared marketing efforts and cost savings.


  1. High Operating Costs: Air Canada faces high operating costs due to factors such as fuel prices, labor expenses, and maintenance costs for its extensive fleet. These costs can put pressure on the airline's profitability, especially during periods of economic downturn or increased competition.

  2. Limited Presence in Emerging Markets: While Air Canada has a strong presence in North America and Europe, its footprint in emerging markets, such as Asia and Latin America, is relatively limited. This lack of presence in rapidly growing markets can restrict the airline's growth opportunities and leave it vulnerable to competitors who have established themselves in these regions.

  3. Customer Service Challenges: Air Canada has faced criticism in the past regarding its customer service, with complaints about delays, lost baggage, and poor communication. Improving customer service and addressing these challenges is crucial to maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction.


  1. Growing Demand for Air Travel: The global demand for air travel is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by factors such as rising incomes, increasing tourism, and business travel. Air Canada can capitalize on this opportunity by expanding its route network and increasing its flight frequencies to meet the growing demand.

  2. Expansion into Emerging Markets: Air Canada has the opportunity to expand its reach into emerging markets, such as China, India, and Brazil, where economic growth and rising middle-class populations are driving increased air travel. By establishing partnerships or launching new routes, the airline can tap into these markets' potential and gain a competitive advantage.

  3. Technological Advancements: Rapid advancements in technology, such as the use of artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and mobile apps, present opportunities for Air Canada to enhance its operational efficiency, improve the customer experience, and gain a competitive edge. Embracing these technological advancements can lead to cost savings, increased customer satisfaction, and streamlined operations.


  1. Intense Competition: The airline industry is highly competitive, with numerous domestic and international carriers vying for market share. Air Canada faces competition from both legacy carriers and low-cost airlines, which can put pressure on its pricing strategy and profitability.

  2. Fuel Price Volatility: Fuel costs are a significant expense for airlines, and fluctuations in oil prices can impact Air Canada's profitability. Sudden increases in fuel prices can squeeze profit margins, while a decline in prices may result in increased competition as other airlines lower their fares.

  3. Economic Downturns: Economic downturns, such as recessions or financial crises, can lead to a decline in air travel demand as consumers cut back on discretionary spending. Air Canada is vulnerable to such economic downturns, which can negatively impact its revenue and profitability.

  4. Regulatory Challenges: The airline industry is subject to various regulations, including safety standards, security measures, and environmental regulations. Compliance with these regulations can be costly and time-consuming, and any changes in regulations can impact Air Canada's operations and financial performance.

- Air Canada is owned primarily by institutional investors, with the largest shareholder being the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

  • The mission statement of Air Canada is to connect Canada and the world, providing safe, reliable, and efficient air travel while focusing on customer satisfaction.
  • Air Canada generates revenue through various sources, including passenger fares, cargo services, and loyalty programs like Aeroplan.
  • The Air Canada Business Model Canvas encompasses key elements such as value proposition, customer segments, channels, revenue streams, and cost structure, all aimed at delivering value and profitability.
  • Air Canada faces competition from both domestic and international airlines, including WestJet, Porter Airlines, and major global carriers like American Airlines and British Airways.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Air Canada is owned by institutional investors, with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec being the largest shareholder.
  2. The mission of Air Canada is to connect Canada and the world through safe and efficient air travel with a focus on customer satisfaction.
  3. Air Canada generates revenue from passenger fares, cargo services, and loyalty programs.
  4. The Air Canada Business Model Canvas encompasses various elements that contribute to the company's value and profitability.
  5. Air Canada faces competition from both domestic and international airlines, including WestJet, Porter Airlines, and major global carriers.


In conclusion, Air Canada is owned by a diverse group of shareholders, both institutional and individual. The mission statement of Air Canada is to connect Canada and the world, by providing a safe, reliable, and customer-focused travel experience.

Air Canada generates revenue through various sources, including passenger ticket sales, cargo transportation, and ancillary services such as onboard sales and fees. The airline's business model canvas highlights key elements such as key activities, key partners, customer segments, and value propositions, which all contribute to its overall success.

As for competition, Air Canada faces competition from both domestic and international airlines. Notable competitors include WestJet, Porter Airlines, and foreign carriers such as Delta Air Lines and British Airways. These competitors, along with the constantly evolving aviation industry, pose challenges to Air Canada's market position.

In terms of a SWOT analysis, Air Canada has several strengths, such as its extensive network and strong brand reputation. However, the airline also faces weaknesses, such as high operating costs and regulatory challenges. Opportunities for Air Canada include the growing demand for air travel and potential expansion into new markets. On the other hand, threats include intense competition, economic downturns, and unforeseen events such as natural disasters or pandemics.

Overall, Air Canada has a solid foundation, driven by its mission to connect people and places. With a diverse ownership structure, a clear focus on customer satisfaction, and a strong business model, Air Canada continues to navigate the competitive landscape and strive for success in the aviation industry.


What are the weaknesses of Air Canada?

Some potential weaknesses of Air Canada include:

  1. High operating costs: Air Canada has relatively high costs compared to some of its competitors, which can affect its profitability and competitiveness in the industry.

  2. Dependence on fuel prices: As an airline, Air Canada is highly dependent on the price of fuel, which can be volatile and unpredictable. Fluctuations in fuel prices can significantly impact the company's operating costs and financial performance.

  3. Labor disputes: Air Canada has a history of labor disputes with its employees, including pilots and other staff. These disputes can disrupt operations, lead to flight cancellations or delays, and impact customer satisfaction.

  4. Aging fleet: Air Canada has an aging fleet of aircraft, which can result in higher maintenance costs and potentially affect reliability. The need for ongoing investment in fleet modernization can strain the company's financial resources.

  5. Limited geographical reach: While Air Canada is one of the largest airlines in Canada, its geographical reach is limited compared to global airlines. This can restrict its ability to compete in certain international markets and limit its growth potential.

  6. Customer service issues: Air Canada has faced criticism in the past regarding customer service, including delays, lost baggage, and poor communication. These issues can negatively impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  7. Competition from low-cost carriers: Air Canada faces intense competition from low-cost carriers, particularly on domestic and short-haul routes. These carriers often offer lower fares, which can attract price-sensitive travelers away from Air Canada.

  8. Vulnerability to economic downturns: As an airline, Air Canada is susceptible to economic downturns and fluctuations in consumer spending. During periods of economic uncertainty, demand for air travel may decline, affecting the company's revenue and profitability.

It's important to note that these weaknesses are not exhaustive and can vary over time based on various factors, including industry dynamics, market conditions, and the company's strategic initiatives.

What is SWOT analysis of airlines?

SWOT analysis of airlines refers to the evaluation of an airline company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is a strategic planning tool that helps in understanding the current position of the airline in the market and identifying areas for improvement. Here is a breakdown of each component:

  1. Strengths:
  • Established brand reputation and recognition.
  • Strong route network and connectivity.
  • High-quality customer service.
  • Access to advanced technology and aircraft.
  • Skilled and experienced workforce.
  • Efficient operations and cost management.
  • Loyalty programs and frequent flyer benefits.
  1. Weaknesses:
  • High operational costs, including fuel expenses and maintenance.
  • Vulnerability to external factors such as fuel price fluctuations, natural disasters, or political instability.
  • Dependence on economies of scale for profitability.
  • Limited control over air traffic control systems and regulations.
  • Potential for reputation damage due to security concerns or accidents.
  1. Opportunities:
  • Growing demand for air travel, especially in emerging markets.
  • Expansion into new routes and markets.
  • Strategic partnerships or alliances with other airlines for code-sharing and increased connectivity.
  • Introduction of new services or products to attract more customers.
  • Technological advancements for improved efficiency and customer experience.
  • Green and sustainable initiatives to meet environmental regulations.
  1. Threats:
  • Intense competition from other airlines, including low-cost carriers.
  • Economic downturns or recessions affecting travel demand.
  • Fluctuating fuel prices.
  • Political instability or security concerns in certain regions.
  • Stringent regulatory requirements and compliance costs.
  • Disruption caused by natural disasters or pandemics.

By analyzing these factors, airlines can identify their competitive advantages, address weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate potential threats to develop effective strategies for sustainable growth in the industry.

What is the competitive strategy of Air Canada?

Air Canada's competitive strategy revolves around differentiation and cost leadership. The airline aims to differentiate itself by providing exceptional customer service, product offerings, and a superior travel experience. It focuses on delivering a high-quality service that caters to the needs of various customer segments.

Air Canada also emphasizes cost leadership by continuously optimizing operational efficiency and controlling costs. It strives to maintain a competitive pricing structure while offering value-added services to customers. By managing costs effectively, the airline can remain competitive in the industry.

Additionally, Air Canada has a strong focus on innovation and technology. It continually invests in modernizing its fleet, offering the latest onboard amenities, and enhancing its digital capabilities to provide a seamless and convenient travel experience.

The company also seeks to expand its global reach and strengthen its position as a leading international carrier. Air Canada has formed strategic alliances and partnerships with other airlines and travel companies to extend its network and offer customers a broader range of destinations.

Overall, Air Canada's competitive strategy combines differentiation, cost leadership, innovation, and global expansion to provide a unique and value-driven travel experience for its customers.

What is the target market of Air Canada?

The target market of Air Canada can be segmented into several categories:

  1. Business travelers: Air Canada caters to business travelers who require frequent and reliable air travel services for meetings, conferences, and other work-related purposes. They offer amenities such as priority check-in, business class seating, and access to exclusive lounges.

  2. Leisure travelers: Air Canada serves leisure travelers who are looking for affordable and convenient air travel options for vacations, family visits, or other recreational purposes. They offer various travel packages, vacation deals, and seasonal promotions to attract this segment.

  3. International travelers: Air Canada targets international travelers who are looking for flights to and from Canada. They provide an extensive network of destinations worldwide, connecting major cities and hubs across different continents.

  4. Domestic travelers: Air Canada caters to domestic travelers who need to travel within Canada for business or leisure purposes. They offer frequent flights to various cities within the country, connecting remote locations and providing efficient domestic air travel services.

  5. Frequent flyers: Air Canada targets frequent flyers who travel regularly and accumulate loyalty points or miles. They have a frequent flyer program called Aeroplan, which offers rewards, benefits, and exclusive privileges to loyal customers.

  6. Premium travelers: Air Canada focuses on premium travelers who seek luxurious and comfortable travel experiences. They offer premium economy, business class, and first-class seating options, along with enhanced services and amenities.

It is important to note that Air Canada's target market may vary based on the specific routes, destinations, and services they offer.

Air Canada: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023 (2024)


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