Air Canada Eyes The A321LR As More A220s Set To Be Delivered

While Air Canada does fly the Boeing 737 MAX series, most of its narrowbody aircraft belong to Airbus families. These include the five-abreast A220 series, of which the airline is set to receive a further 15 examples by the end of 2022. Interestingly, the Canadian flag carrier has also revealed an interest in Airbus’s long-range A321LR model.

Air Canada Airbus A220
The A220 has become popular among Air Canada’s passengers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Four A220s delivered in Q1

Air Canada announced today at its first-quarter earnings call that it has continued its short-haul fleet modernization despite the industry’s present challenges. The Airbus A220 is leading the way in this regeneration, with Air Canada favoring the A220-300 variant.

This next-generation narrowbody has won favor among both employees and passengers for its enhanced efficiency and comfort levels. According to Planespotters.net, Air Canada presently has 19 137-seat A220-300s in its fleet, of which 17 are active. Of these, more than 20% arrived in Q1 of 2021. Indeed, the airline confirmed on the aforementioned call that “we took delivery of four Airbus A220 aircraft in the first quarter.”

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Air Canada TCA A220 Retrojet
C-GNBN sports a stunning retro TCA livery. Photo: Air Canada

These four first-quarter arrivals came in the form of the following aircraft.

Next 15 deliveries also secured

The introduction of the A220 has played a significant role in the regeneration of Air Canada’s short-haul fleet. The type will replace its remaining A319s, which have an average age of 24 years. Amid the pandemic, it has not been unusual to see carriers defer orders. However, regarding its remaining A220s, the airline confirmed that:

“In March 2021, Air Canada concluded a committed secured facility totaling US$475 million to finance the purchase of the next 15 Airbus A220 aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2021 and 2022.”

Air Canada A220
Air Canada will receive its remaining A220s by the end of 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Potentially a place for the A321LR as well

In the longer term, Air Canada will be hoping that it can resume its longer-haul services to transatlantic destinations such as the UK and mainland Europe. However, ongoing uncertainty remains regarding different countries’ restrictions and vaccination rates.

As such, it may not see the demand levels that it had become accustomed to before coronavirus. With this in mind, the airline is open to trying new aircraft types in order to adapt to market fluctuations. For example, it stated that:

We’ve done a pretty good job covering ourselves for growth beyond our expectations, but certainly also for even further fine tuning. (…) That gives us the opportunity to then potentially step into new types of aircraft. Like the A321LRs, for example, that we like, and that certainly have a potential place in Air Canada’s fleet as we go forward.

Air Transat Airbus A321
Air Transat operates both first-generation (pictured) and ‘neo’ variants of the A321, including the latter’s ‘LR’ version. Will Air Canada follow suit in this respect?  Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Of course, the carrier would not be the first Canadian airline to deploy this long-range version of the Airbus A321neo series. Indeed, Air Transat, whose merger with Air Canada was recently canceled, has operated the type since 2019. Last October, Air Transat even set the record for the world’s longest flight using the aircraft.

This saw it fly non-stop from Montréal, Canada to Athens, Greece. This represented an impressive distance of 7,600 km (4,100 NM), although it has since been beaten by Azores Airlines. Nonetheless, with the aircraft being an ideal fit for ‘long thin’ transatlantic markets, Air Canada’s interest is understandable. Watch this space…

Would you like to see the A321LR join Air Canada’s fleet? Have you flown on the airline’s existing A220s? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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