Air Canada considering fleet changes in 2013

Air Canada LogoAir Canada is planning possible fleet changes as a result of an arbitrator’s decision in July which would give the airline the opportunity to remove regional jets from its mainline fleet and ordering larger aircraft in their place.

The airline and its pilot union offered two different plans to settle their conflict and in the end the arbitrator selected the airline’s plan over the union’s. As such, the airline is of the opinion that it can make several changes in its fleet to provide better operational flexiblity.

One possible result is that the airline may shift some of its A319s and 767s to a low cost carrier which may begin operating in 2013. Air Canada had offered a low cost carrier called Zip in the past which operated ex-Canadian Airlines 737s and later also operated another carrier called Tango which operated 737s and A320s, but found those operations to be inefficient and shut those operations down soon after beginning them.

The aircraft in question are leased and those leases will come to an end by the end of 2015. While the 767s will be replaced by new 787s which are expected to come into service during the same period, the removal of the A319s from the fleet might mean that the airline will be seeking new orders for aircraft as a result. Air Canada currently operates 38 A319s and 30 767s. As well, 45 Embraer 190s and 15 Embraer 175s are owned by Air Canada, but are a possible target as part of the fleet restructuring.

Air Canada has indicated that the Embraers are good aircraft, but do not fit as well into their fleet structure as they would like. According to reports, the airline is considering whether or not to remove them from the fleet as well. All or some of the Embraer 175s could be operated by Air Canada Express, but the Embraer 190s would have to be sold as they would not be acceptable due to scope clauses with the airline’s regional pilots.

Another result of the fleet restructuring will be the acceleration of the retirement of CRJ100s and CRJ200s operated by Air Canada Express, and their replacement by CRJ700s and 900s.

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