Air Canada inaugurated service on its new A220-300 today, the latest carrier to bring the type to passengers. The first flight departed Montreal early Thursday morning for Calgary following an unveiling party for media on Wednesday. Air Canada currently holds orders for 45 A220s. As more enter the fleet, the aircraft will be deployed from Montreal and Toronto on existing Canadian and transborder routes, including Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and New York – La Guardia.
This is an historic moment for Air Canada as we welcome the Airbus A220 into our fleet. 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.”– Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer
Among other small details, the first A220 carries the registration C-GROV, with the “ROV” portion a nod to the CEO.
A220s redefining the Air Canada route structure
Beyond the existing routes Air Canada aims to take advantage of the A220’s unique combination of range and operating costs to adjust its route structure and add new services for passengers. Mark Galardo, Vice President of Network Planning at Air Canada, explains, “The A220 will allow us to further expand our North American network, offering customers new routes and more robust year-round schedules. 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 a comparable level of service and comforts as on a widebody aircraft.”
The first two new routes associated with this shift launch in summer 2020. First announced last August, the carrier intends to connect Montreal with Seattle and Toronto with San Jose, California on the new planes. These flights will be the only nonstop service connecting those cities.
While Galardo spoke of the North American network there are also some opportunities into Europe that could benefit from the A220 joining the fleet. The carrier connects Canada’s eastern provinces to London with single-aisle planes, often the A319. It is conceivable that the A220 could fill in on some of these routes as more join the fleet, though that would also require ETOPS configurations and certifications on the aircraft.
Fully featured interior
From a passenger comfort perspective the Air Canada A220 brings a top-notch suite of offerings to the market. The carrier will operate the plane in a two-class configuration with 12 business class seats in a 2×2 layout and 125 economy class seats in a 2×3 arrangement. Owing to the relatively large fuselage passengers on the A220 will find the widest seats in the Air Canada fleet on board, up to 19″ in economy class.
All seats include embedded inflight entertainment screens powered by Panasonic Avionics‘ eX platform. Air Canada will load more than 1,000 hours of content on board in 15 languages.The aircraft will also offer high-speed inflight wifi connectivity powered by the Gogo 2Ku service.
The decision to deliver a more premium interior matches with Air Canada’s historical trends on larger single-aisle planes. It also shows a commitment to delivering more options and a richer product to passengers across the fleet. As airlines continue to debate the value of in-seat entertainment systems versus the passenger satisfaction and weight impact they present Air Canada is clearly taking the side of more being better.