Air Canada has placed an order for a jet.

Air Canada places A321XLR order

Between the first quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2027, Air Canada is expected to acquire 26 A321XLR aircraft, which are expected to join the carrier's fleet. Air Canada has the purchase rights to acquire an additional 14 aircraft between the years of 2027 and 2030, for a total of up to 40 A321XLRs.

Air Canada will have a total of 182 seats, including 14 business class seats and 168 economy class seats. Inflight entertainment, inflight wi-fi, and signature Airbus interiors will be available on the planes. We don't know what Air Canada's business class will look like, but there are some new seating products designed for this jet.

This is the latest generation of the A321 aircraft. The aircraft is expected to enter service in 2023. It is the longest range narrow body commercial aircraft out there. Air Canada states that the plane can be used for any flights within North America, and I think the focus will be on the trans-Atlantic flights.

This could be a game-changing change for long and thin routes. The longer range and more fuel efficient of the A321XLR is what you would think of as a replacement for the Boeing 757.

Air Canada has ordered the Airbus A321XLR

My take on Air Canada’s A321XLR order

There are a couple of thoughts about Air Canada's A321XLRs.

The A321XLR is an obvious fit for Air Canada.

  • Currently the carrier’s smallest long haul aircraft is the Airbus A330, and that’s a pretty big aircraft, so there was a need for something smaller
  • Given Canada’s geography and Air Canada’s hubs, this plane will be useful for routes from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, etc., to Europe
  • While this is often just how the cookie crumbles due to negotiations, it’s interesting that Air Canada has historically operated Airbus A320-family aircraft, then placed an order for 40 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and is now ordering more Airbus A320-family aircraft; from an efficiency standpoint (maintenance, crew training, etc.) there would be a benefit to operating just one type of jet
Air Canada is taking delivery of 40 Boeing 737 MAX 8s

Air Canada has a A321XLR configuration.

  • Most other airlines (including American and United) have announced premium-heavy A321XLR configurations, with business class, premium economy, and economy, given that these planes will operate long haul routes
  • Air Canada, on the other hand, is going for a dense configuration; the plane will feature 182 seats, which is just eight fewer seats than Air Canada’s A321s currently have (and they are regionally configured, and don’t have flat beds)
  • Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if these plans change, and Air Canada ends up including premium economy on these jets

Bottom line

Air Canada placed an order for 26 aircraft. This plane will allow Air Canada to operate all kinds of long and thin trans-Atlantic routes from its hubs in the east.

Air Canada is going for a very dense configuration. Air Canada is good at making planes dense, but you would think that to make the economics of this work, you need to tailor more to premium passengers, especially with the amount of low cost competition.

What do you think about Air Canada's order?

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