Air Canada Honors Guillemette and Greets New EVP – “The Future is Bright”
8 months ago
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8 months ago
Home » Scholarship » Air Canada Honors Guillemette and Greets New EVP – “The Future is Bright”
Lucie Guillemette isn’t sure what she’s going to do when she wakes up the morning of May 1, the first day of her retirement from Air Canada after 35 years where she religiously started her mornings with coffee and a look at advance bookings.
“Maybe I’ll do a wordle,” she joked with TravelPulse Canada before an event at the Fours Seasons Hotel in Toronto on Thursday that celebrated her retirement and welcomed new team members. Nearly 200 attendees represented a cross-section of industry partners and key clients.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to work in this industry with partners that I have highly respected and for such a long period of time.”
Guillemette refers to Air Canada as her family and is appreciative of the relationship the company has with the travel industry. She says the feedback she received from the industry, both good and bad, was always very valuable, and she always appreciated having honest conversations, even after decisions were made that weren’t popular.
“Emerging from the pandemic, we are better equipped than we’ve ever been.
Chantal Podgorski and Lucie Guillemette
We were able to finalize the work we needed to do with our airport systems. We invested in our fleet, and at the same time, we were able to regrow our network. But all of that combined gives us the confidence to look at the future, not only just for us, for the airline, but for our industry. And, you know, we can say that we’re very excited about the fact that our industry is, our future is, quite bright.”
That optimism was fuelled in part by knowing the company was in good hands after her departure. Mark Galardo, Executive Vice President, Revenue and Network Planning will take over the reins. Galardo is a Top 40 Under 40 winner and has been with Air Canada for twenty years. He’s heralded by his colleagues for his passion and drive for the company to succeed, something he credits to Guillemette.
“You can’t replace Lucie. Lucie has been an amazing mentor to me,” he tells TravelPulse before the event. “I’ve gone through some very challenging times professionally, with the grounding of the 737 Max, which at the time, I thought was the worst event that could happen. Little did I know that it was going to be a warm-up for what was about to come with COVID.
During some very dark times, she was a person that I could rely, on seeking guidance and counsel. She’s taught me the importance of the travel trade to our business, and the loyalty that travel trade has with Air Canada and how we can’t take that for granted.”
Galardo says 2023 is still a recovery year, as getting out of the pandemic was “very, very challenging.” This year, the goal is to get back to almost 90% of 2019 operations and rebuild the network to allow them to compete with the likes of airlines Air France and Cathay. He says 2023 is really about rebuilding services to Asia because it’s the first year since the pandemic, that Asia has now reopened.
“We get to 2024 and beyond. We’re going to start growing again, we’re getting new airplanes. And we will be looking to resume another cycle of international growth.
That growth flows to Air Canada Vacations as well, as Lisa M. Pierce, Vice President, Global Sales, and Air Canada Vacations, also welcomed her newest leadership team members Virgilio Russi, Vice President, International Sales, and Nino Montagnese, Vice President, of Air Canada Vacations. The pair gave an update on system improvements and goals for 2023.
We’re confident that in 2023, and 2024, we’ll see the rebound of Asia,” says Russi. “This will bring added capacity, reinstated destinations, and even more new destinations out of Toronto. Together with Vancouver and Montreal, Toronto is our most important international gateway. In fact, it competes for the position of the top transatlantic hub with other major airports in North America. And with the industry’s help and more aircraft, we can get to number one, very soon.”
With the company on a fast track to growth, will Guillemette miss being a part of it?
“Through the tough times and the failures, you learn about yourself. You learn about the business and fire up to do it again. I can assure you that I will be the best Air Canada cheerleader from the sidelines. After 35 years, I thank you. And I don’t say goodbye I will say ‘Hello, I’ll see you on board.’ Of course, on an Air Canada airplane.
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