Air Canada is set to operate its first Airbus A220-300 flight Thursday, marking the next step in its narrow-body fleet renewal. AC flight 317 is set for departure from Montreal at 0810 for a 4 hour 56 minute flight to Calgary.
“This is an historic moment for Air Canada as we welcome the Airbus A220 into our fleet,” said Air Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu at a ceremony in Montreal.
“We are the first airline in Canada to operate this next-generation aircraft, which was designed by Bombardier in Mirabel, Quebec. Our customers will enjoy a level of comfort unrivalled on a single-aisle aircraft and the A220’s operating efficiencies promise meaningful environmental and cost benefits.”
Air Canada has ordered 45 A220s, with a list price of more than $4 billion, though airlines frequently negotiate significant discounts.
“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,” said Rovinescu.
Other planes in Air Canada’s fleet renewal plans have not fared so well. The airline expected to have upwards of 50 Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the fleet in the summer of 2019, but was forced to scramble when the type was grounded world-wide last March after a pair of deadly crashes.
As new aircraft arrive, they will be deployed on routes from Montreal and Toronto to Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and New York. The airline plans to launch a pair of new cross-border A220 routes in May, between Montreal and Seattle, and Toronto and San Jose, California.
Air Canada is the first airline in North America to fly the -300 variant. Delta has successfully deployed the smaller -200 on routes across the United States, to rave customer reviews.
Air Canada’s A220s will be configured with 12 business class seats and 125 economy, though there will be no Privilege section, unlike other narrow-body aircraft in the fleet. The airline also boasts that the aircraft is deployed with wider 19 inch seats in economy, and will feature seat-back entertainment and satellite Wifi onboard.