President of Passenger Airlines, Air Canada
Ben Smith was appointed President, Passenger Airlines in August 2014. In this role, Ben has overall responsibility for the commercial strategies and financial performance of the airline and its subsidiaries including oversight for revenue generation, operations and customer service activities.
Air Canada’s principle objective is to be a Global Champion and be among the best global airlines, and Ben’s key priorities are developing Air Canada’s transformational strategies towards sustained profitability. With international growth as a cornerstone, he is the architect of the airline’s strategic and diversified global network expansion to more than 200 destinations on six continents. He is also the architect behind fully developing Toronto Pearson as Air Canada’s primary global hub, Vancouver as a premier gateway to Asia Pacific and Montreal as a gateway to French international markets, where the airline’s global networks are fully integrated to its extensive domestic and American transborder networks. Moreover, Ben led the commercial analysis which concluded in the decision to purchase the technologically leading advanced Bombardier C Series aircraft, which will further strengthen Air Canada’s competitive position.
Under Ben’s leadership, Air Canada Rouge, the lower-cost airline that competes effectively in the leisure market worldwide, was launched, and the Air Canada Leisure Group was created to leverage the strengths of Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge, and Air Canada Vacations. He was chief negotiator during the airline’s labour negotiations with the two unions representing pilots and flight attendants which culminated in landmark ten-year agreements with both groups.
Ben’s previous executive positions at Air Canada included Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Vice President-Network Planning, and President & CEO, Air Canada Vacations.
Ben began his airline career when he joined Air Ontario, one of Jazz Aviation LP’s predecessor regional airlines, as a Customer Sales and Service agent in 1990. He left Air Ontario in 1993 to open a retail corporate travel agency which he owned and operated for eight years. Ben rejoined Air Canada in 2002 as Managing Director of Tango, after overseeing the development and launch of Air Canada’s innovative and separately branded, low-fare operation. Tango subsequently evolved into Air Canada’s well-known Economy fare brand when the airline pioneered the successful, simplified fare model which is still in place today.
Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.