Air Canada has announced plans for new A220-300 aircraft due to be delivered later this year, deploying the plane on existing routes from Toronto and Montreal to Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and New York – La Guardia before adding new services in the spring.
Air Canada says it will use the A220 to add flights between Toronto and San Jose, California and Montreal and Seattle, bolstering its strategy us funnelling traffic from the United States through its major hubs and onto European destinations.
The strategy has led to impressive growth in both cities, with Toronto reporting three per cent more passengers in the first six months of the year and Montreal almost six per cent more. In both cases, the growth in international and trans-border traffic far outstrips growth on domestic routes.
“The A220 will further strengthen our position on transborder and transcontinental markets and be instrumental in our continued growth,” said Air Canada Vice President of Network Planning Mark Galardo.
“The two routes announced today are the first of many future possibilities as the A220 will allow us to further develop our North American network, offering customers new routes and more robust year-round schedules,” he said in a statement.
“Canada is our second largest air travel market, after Mexico, and Montreal has been a missing link,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman in a statement. “Seattle leisure and business travellers alike have been eager for nonstop service to Montreal, and we are thrilled that Air Canada is building on its presence in our market by opening this route.”
Air Canada is the first North American airline to use the larger A220-300 variant. Prospective Westjet joint venture Delta Air Lines in the United States is to be the largest operator of the plane in the world, with a total of 95 aircraft on order.
Air Canada’s A220-300 is configured for 137 seats, 12 in business class and 122 in economy in a 3×2 layout. Economy seats should prove more comfortable for passengers. They are 19 inches wide, compared to 18 inches on other newest aircraft in the fleet, the Boeing 737 Max.
“The high ceilings, extra shoulder room and storage make this an unparalleled interior in the narrow-body segment,” says the airline.
Passengers will have access to Wifi onboard, and each seat will feature Panasonic eX1 seatback entertainment.
“When connecting through our hubs across Canada onward to international destinations, customers travelling on an A220 will benefit from a virtually seamless cabin experience offering the same level of service and comforts as on a widebody aircraft,” said Galardo.
Air Canada’s first A220, fin number 101, is being built in Mirabel, just outside of Montreal, and is expected to be delivered later this year. Airbus said the fuselage has already been assembled, with wings and other assemblies being joined.
The plane has a cruise speed of 829 km/h, slightly slower than the 737, at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.
The A220-300 has an average list price of $91.5 million (U.S.), though airlines routinely negotiate deep discounts with manufacturers.