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Cancelled air service hurts German marketing efforts Whistler’s share of the German skiing market will likely suffer as a result of Canadian Airlines International’s decision last week to cancel air service between Canada and Frankfurt. The decrease in service, effective Oct. 31, will affect the German, Swiss, Austrian, Belgian and French markets. Whistler had also been making inroads to the Spanish market, Whistler Resort Association President David Thomson said. The WRA had been working with CAI to develop the German market for the last four years. The WRA had a co-op program with the airline worth about $1 million, including contacts with tour operators, and a German Roadshow Sales Blitz. The WRA will be going ahead with a German magazine insert, but tour packages advertised in the magazine will be routed through London via British Airways, one of CAI’s international partners. CAI had six non-stop flights a week between Vancouver and Frankfurt last winter. While the airline is pulling out of continental Europe to put more planes on Asian routes, CAI is increasing its capacity between London and its Canadian destinations, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, by using 747 aircraft instead of 767s. The airline is also adding a daily non-stop flight between Vancouver and London for the first time this winter. The WRA will be talking with Air Canada, which flies to Frankfurt, and to KLM, which flies out of Amsterdam, to try to keep the European market alive. Air Canada now has a partnership with the German airline Lufthansa. "Air Canada does fly Frankfurt-Vancouver but they’ve been more passive partners until now," Thomson said. "I don’t think we’ll lose all of (the German market), but we’ll have to re-start our program." Thomson estimated Air Canada has only 20 per cent of the sales and marketing people in Europe that CAI had. "We got tons of media-fams from Canadian," he said. The WRA will also be working with Tourism B.C. and the Canadian Tourism Commission in Germany to review strategies and develop new partnerships. CAI may also maintain an off-line sales office in Frankfurt. The German skier market was not huge for Whistler last winter — Thomson estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 skier visits — but has been growing quickly over the last four years. German tourists also stay about 10 days on average, which means a considerable amount of money spent on restaurants, souvenirs and activities other than skiing. The German camper business, starting from Vancouver, has also been an emerging factor for Whistler’s summer economy. CAI says the redeployment from Europe to Asia was a matter of placing aircraft on routes which make the most financial sense. The airline says there is a growing demand for travel to Japan, China and other points in Asia.

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