Montreal\ice\ – “He discovered Italy late, at the age of 23, after a trip to Rome and Venice. Since then, Italy has entered his heart and inspired him in his professional choices. Air Canada is one of the North American airlines with direct flights to and from Italy. He is a Mark Gallardo, Air Canada’s ‘Senior Vice President Network Planning and Revenue Management’, managed to resume bringing civil aviation to Olympus, with 1,500 daily flights to more than 220 destinations in 18 years and 8 months. It was to interview him Victor Jordan for that “Canadian Citizen”A weekly magazine he edits in Montreal.
“Marc was a key architect of the rapid growth of Air Canada’s international routes from Montreal and Toronto airports, now two essential hubs for European destinations. Of Molise and Campania descent (his maternal grandparents from Campobasso and his paternal grandfather from Mignano Monte Lungo, Caserta , patty, immigrated to Canada in the 1950s), graduated from Concordia University with a degree in business administration, married to Amanda, Sicilian, father of Tessa, 5. Old, and Matteo, 2, Mark is prouder than ever of his roots.
Rome is his favorite city, spaghetti Cassio & Pepe and Bucatini all’Americiana it’s a derby, he has a soft spot for the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, he listens to Mengoni and Jovanotti, he loves Tiramisu, he supports Juventus and is a Roy Italia subscriber.
“At the age of 23 – he told us – I went to Italy for the first time and I felt a very strong call: something changed in me at that moment. Suddenly, I felt a deep sense of guilt because I could not converse with my grandparents in Italian. It seemed that I lacked respect. I Upon returning to Montreal, I immediately enrolled in Italian courses at Concordia. In 2009, I met my wife, who is very proficient in Italian. It became impossible for me not to speak Italian”.
E. Today you are the young Italian-Canadian manager of Air Canada. How did it all begin?
R. In the early 90s, I went to Mirabel International Airport with my grandmother: she was going to Italy with an Alitalia flight, and that piqued my interest. Between 1996 and 1997, Dorval took over from Mirabel as an international airport, while Montreal lost its Canadian hub status to Toronto. I started studying the best companies in the world, what planes they had, what cities they flew to, what their business model was. I realized that I want to work in the aviation industry. I know Air Canada can do better and will help bring it back to the top. As an Italian-Canadian, I was surprised that there were so few flights between Montreal and Italy. I couldn’t accept it. I promised myself that one day I would work for Air Canada and resume flights to Italy. I did. Today, from March to December, there are 3 weekly Montreal-Rome flights (which becomes 7 in the summer, 1 per day), from April to October there are 2 weekly flights to Venice and 4-5 flights throughout the year. Weekly flights to Milan (6 from next summer). After nearly 40 years, the route to Milan opens in 2022! These include 2 weekly flights from Toronto to Rome from March to December (7 from May and October, once a day), and 3 flights to Venice from April to October.
E. How did you convince Air Canada’s top management to increase flights to Italy?
R. Italy is undeniably a very popular tourist destination. It is a natural magnet that sells itself. Also, there is a large Italian-Canadian community, particularly in Montreal and Toronto, where what we call ‘family visitor traffic’ continues unabated. So we created 2 hubs, Toronto and Montreal: travelers from all over North America stop in Montreal or Toronto and catch a connecting flight to Italy. Montreal is connected to 20 major US cities, Toronto has 35. From all over North America, Air Canada travelers to Italy stop in Montreal or Toronto.
E. What does Air Canada do with other airlines?
R. Our flight schedule is very competitive. In terms of global routes, Canada is halfway between the US and Europe. This represents a logical geographic choice for stopping. Today, 30-40% of our customers on our flights are Americans or Italians passing through Canada. Without this transit, Montreal and Toronto could not be hubs, as Canadian demand alone would not be sufficient to fill the flights.
E. How did you survive the epidemic?
R. It was terrible. In just a few weeks, we went from 50 million passengers a year to less than 1 million. We had to ground almost the entire fleet, much less active aircraft, especially cargo planes. Thanks to the rise of commercial aviation, we were able to survive. Fortunately, we recovered quickly – posting our first positive quarter since the pandemic began. We have restored almost 90% of international flights, flights to Italy are very successful in 2022.
E. What role can Air Canada play in persuading Italians to visit Canada?
R. We are fortunate to be part of the ‘A++’ joint venture with Lufthansa and United as part of the ‘Star Alliance’. Lufthansa and United can be relied upon to sell Air Canada tickets in the Italian market. Unfortunately, Italians love New York, Los Angeles, Miami. They know about Montreal and Toronto, it’s cool. There is still a lot of work to be done to improve Canada as a tourist destination.
E. Italians and Italian-Canadians also love Florida and the Caribbean.
R. We have several vacation packages to the south: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, Florida, Los Angeles, California, Milan and all destinations we connect with flights from. Those who choose Air Canada stop in Montreal. In this way, we also create the conditions for a future visit to Quebec.
E. How proud are you of your Italian ancestry?
R. I am grateful and proud to be the son of Italians, because of the education and values they gave me, I was able to realize my childhood dream. There is no doubt that Italian values have contributed to my professional success: family, culture, religion, perseverance, sense of sacrifice, creativity. It helped me realize all the potential I had inside.
E. Where will Air Canada be in 2030 and how do you envision the future of aviation?
R. Air Canada will continue to grow and establish itself as one of the most important airlines in the world, possibly with new destinations in Italy. There will soon be a new generation of aircraft which, thanks to technology, will consume less and less fuel, all for the benefit of environmental sustainability.
E. Can Air Canada help maintain Italian culture in Canada?
R. Italy is a wonderful country, and in Canada we need to go there more often to preserve its language and culture, to keep our roots alive, to keep in touch with the places our grandparents came from. Air Canada will give us a big hand in this”. (ice)
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”