Air Canada will soon be opening an Atlanta-Montreal route, R. Lamar Durrett announced May 25 at the Georgia International Expo.

Mr. Durrett, formerly with Delta and Continental airlines, is executive vice president of Air Canada and resides in Atlanta.  In response to a question following his keynote address at the annual trade conference, he said that an announcement concerning the new flight was “imminent.”

He said that Air Canada received a tremendous boost from the “open skies” agreement between the Canadian and U.S. governments earlier this year, and that the company plans to expand its flights within Canada as well as internationally.  A new Toronto-Montreal flight is to be opened June 19 and flights are scheduled for Hong Kong, Tel Aviv and elsewhere, he added.

Calling the open skies agreement a “green flag at the Indianapolis 500,” he cited the development of Air Canada’s Toronto-Atlanta route within two weeks of the agreement’s signing as an example of the company’s ability to react quickly.

Mr. Durrett also stressed the need for cultural sensitivity in expanding the company’s operations internationally, referring to Wal-Mart’s disastrous promotional campaign in Quebec Province when it blanketed the French-speaking province with fliers written only in English.

Meanwhile, ValuJet Airlines Inc. admits that its load factor on flights to and from Montreal is below expectations.  Lewis H. Jordan, president and chief operating officer of the Atlanta-based low-fare, no-frills carrier, said the company was studying whether the problem might be cultural, language or whether residents of Quebec simply are used to obtaining cheap fares through third parties.  “Maybe they have a different view of leisure travel than we do in the United States,” Mr. Jordan said.