Air Canada Shows Off Its Brand New Airbus A220

Air Canada revealed its brand new Airbus A220-300 in Montreal yesterday, Wednesday 15 January 2020. The gleaming new aircraft, the first of 45 the airline has on order, is due to start flying today. Lucky passengers on AC317 between Montreal and Calgary this morning will be the first to ride the new plane.

Air Canada’s first A220 passenger service is taking flight this morning. Photo: Air Canada.

The airline is also set to rapidly deploy the A220 onto new international routes, jetting between Montreal and Seattle and Toronto to San Jose.

Best-in-class passenger experience in North America

The airline says its new 137 passenger narrowbody Quebec made aircraft will provide the best-in-class passenger experience for North American domestic flights. The aircraft has 12 business class seats in a 2-2 layout and 125 economy class seats in a 2-3 layout.

All passengers, regardless of where they are seated, will have access to satellite-based high-speed WiFi, personal touch screen TVs that allow gate-to-gate access to on-demand video and audio programs, moving maps with flight path data, as well as games and wellness applications.

In the main economy cabin, seat pitch is 76.2cm, seat width is 48.01cm, and seat recline is 7.62cm. Also in the economy cabin, every seat has in-seat power for laptops, USB ports for recharging, adjustable headrests and ambient mood lighting. Up the front in business class, seat pitch is 93.98cm, seat width is 52.07cm, and seat recline is 15.24cm.

The main economy cabin on Air Canada’s A220. Photo: Air Canada.

Mark Galardo, Air Canada’s vice president of network planning, told The Financial Post the A220 is the best airline in its class. In addition to having the widest economy class seat in the market, he cited the larger windows and ample overhead luggage space as key to providing overall greater passenger amenity.

In a statement provided to Simple Flying, Air Canada said;

“This aircraft is a game-changer for Air Canada as there is simply no rival in this category. The A220 will further strengthen our position on transborder and transcontinental markets and be instrumental in our continued growth. Our customers will benefit from innovative design features in a spacious and comfortable cabin.”

Air Canada order put the A220 program onto a more solid footing

The A220 order from Air Canada helped put the production of the aircraft onto a more solid footing. Manufacture of the aircraft was passed from Bombardier to Airbus in 2018 and, since then, sales have increased significantly as the A220 production program was revitalized. And the manufacturer remains appreciative of Air Canada being the first North American airline to put money down and order the A220.

Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer said yesterday;

“I am especially pleased today given Air Canada’s role in completing the 2016 order for the C Series, as it was then called, at a time when the future of this aircraft program was in doubt. We are very proud to have paved the way for orders from other major carriers.” 

The new A220 at its official unveiling yesterday. Photo: Air Canada.

Not a stopgap or substitute for the 737 MAX

Arguably, Air Canada didn’t need a lot of persuading. While smaller than the 737 MAX, the A220 is 20% more fuel-efficient and more nimble in terms of airports it can access. And, while bringing in the A220 will allow Air Canada to begin phasing out their use of aircraft like the 97 seat Embraer E190s, Air Canada says the A220 is neither a substitute or stopgap for the 737 MAX. 

Air Canada’s A220 on a test flight. Photo: Air Canada.

Air Canada has 24 Boeing 737 MAXs grounded and a further 37 on order. The airline was expecting to have 36 MAXs in the air by the end of 2019. Air Canada says its contingency plans to cover the gaps left by the 737 MAX grounding do not include the A220.

Rather, Air Canada sees the A220 as opening up new opportunities for the airline. They say the aircraft will not only facilitate future growth but also strengthen their existing market share on North American routes.

Deliveries of the A220 to Air Canada will continue throughout 2020 and beyond.