Established in 2010, the ICCC works to strengthen relationships between Canadian and Irish businesses. Opportunities for growth and expansion are facilitated through networking events, information and collaboration.
On January 24, the ICCCC hosted its first event of 2019. The breakfast event was well attended by over 75 individuals representing multiple sectors highlighting the diversity of the Calgary business community. In addition to the many Members and guests and Board Members of the Ireland Canada Centre for Commerce, Calgary, attendees also included Mary Moran from the Calgary Economic Development, Sandip Lalli, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Bob Sartor, Calgary Airport Authority, Todd Hirsch from ATB, and several key members of the WestJet team.
Laureen Regan, President of the Ireland Canada Centre for Commerce, Calgary, opened the breakfast event. Opening remarks from Regan noted that Ireland and Alberta have many areas of expertise and trade opportunities between the two would benefit from market expansion in many sectors such as ICT, energy, cleantech, professional services, infrastructure, agriculture, water and wastewater systems, and so much more. With an estimated value of trade between Ireland and Canada at approximately €2.5bn, and with the new EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), there is considerable potential for expansion for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
“CETA is a game-changer for countries like Ireland and Canada and Ireland is uniquely positioned among EU Member States to benefit under its terms, given our common language and legal systems and Ireland’s cultural compatibility with Canada” Regan said “However, while we are being empowered through CETA to grow and explore new markets, there still needs to be a way to access markets in a timely way. Connectivity is the lifeblood of trade.” “There has been an increase in the number of direct flight connections between Ireland and Canada over the past few years; but they have been based primarily in eastern markets.” Regan went on to say, “Here in the West, we are therefore, especially pleased with the new WestJet Calgary-Dublin route.”
Mark Porter, Executive Vice President of People and Culture at Calgary-based WestJet and keynote speaker for the event, engaged the audience by sharing the WestJet story of growth and expansion. Porter highlighted many exciting milestones from the WestJet history including their very first transatlantic destination to Dublin, in 2014. Since then, capacity between Ireland and Canada has increased by some 200 per cent, flying more than 208,000 guests to and from Canada and Dublin. A testament to the strength of the relationship and market demand for connectivity between our two countries.
“Connectivity between Alberta and the rest of the world is extremely important. This will boost tourism, help grow the economy and help position Calgary as an international aviation hub.” Mr. Porter shared “Here in Alberta, our exports to Ireland are worth about $30 million per year, and are mainly organic chemicals, iron and steel products, pharmaceuticals and machinery. Coming back the other way, our imports from Ireland are valued at about $54 million a year, and are mainly pharmaceuticals, optical, medical and other photographic equipment, and machinery.”
“Which brings me to an exciting new chapter in the history of our airline – our new Calgary-Dublin service, beginning June 1, and running through the summer, until October 25. The service will run three times weekly on board our fleet of brand-spanking-new Boeing 787 Dreamliners!”
WestJet is the first Canadian airline to base Dreamliners in Calgary. The first three will be based at YYC Calgary International Airport, their largest hub. WestJet's Dreamliners will carry 320 guests in a three-class cabin configuration including a new Business cabin featuring 16 private pods with lie-flat seats, an upscale Premium cabin and an updated Economy cabin.
Mark closed say “Between WestJet Rewards and our new Premium product offers, the value proposition for the business traveler is now stronger than ever before. Folks, this is not your parents’ WestJet.” WestJet generously donated a return direct flight for two people from Calgary to Dublin. There was excitement in the room as Mr. Porter drew the name. The name of the winner was Michael Hayward.
Laureen closed the breakfast thanking WestJet for their generous sponsorship of the event and reiterating the excitement the Irish community shares for this new, direct access between Calgary and Dublin.
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