Eyeing U.S. and domestic markets, Air Canada unveils first Airbus A220 jet

DORVAL, Que. — Air Canada is unveiling its first Airbus A220 jetliner, one of an eventual 45 it aims to let loose on the North American market.

The narrow-body aircraft, whose maiden voyage takes off for Calgary from Montreal on Thursday, grants Canada’s largest airline greater range and cost savings as the company tries to shore up profit margins amid the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

Craig Landry, Air Canada’s head of operations, says the 137-seat A220 offers 20 per cent more fuel efficiency than some Boeing 737 and Airbus jets, and will begin to replace equivalent-size planes like the Embraer E190.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu says the order, with a list price of US$3.8 billion, makes Air Canada the second North American carrier to fly the A220, after Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc.

The plane was called the C Series before Bombardier Inc. gave up a controlling stake in the aircraft program in 2018 to Europe-based Airbus, which christened it the A220. The airliners will be built at what are now Airbus Canada’s facilities north of Montreal in Mirabel, Que. Airbus also produces the planes at a new site in Mobile, Ala., mainly for U.S. customers.

Air Canada’s next two A220 deliveries are slated to run routes starting in May between Montreal and Seattle and between Toronto and San Jose, Calif., as it looks to build its presence in the U.S. and Canada while pushing back against rival WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s inroads in international markets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:AC, TSX:BBD.B)

The Canadian Press