Air Canada announced plans to acquire 26 A321XLR aircraft, updating its long-haul offerings. The aircraft will be used for flights within North America, as well as some Transatlantic markets, pending approval from Transport Canada regulators.
This order also shows that Air Canada is emerging strongly from the pandemic and is ideally positioned to grow, compete and thrive in a reshaped global aviation industry.– Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada
A premium configuration
The A321XLR will fly for Air Canada with 14 lie-flat beds in the Signature Class cabin at the front. It will also accommodate 168 economy class seats. The configuration offers a relatively high number of seats overall for a long-haul layout, though it still should be able to deliver reasonable pitch for those in the back.
The aircraft will also feature next generation seatback entertainment, access to inflight Wifi and a spacious cabin design featuring generous overhead baggage storage bins. While not explicitly mentioned in the announcement, it is safe to assume passengers will also have access to in-seat power of some sort on board.
Air Canada also operates its 737MAX fleet for some transatlantic routes. Those planes do not, however, feature the lie-flat bed option up front. The A3221XLR opens up opportunities for longer routes and higher revenues with a more premium layout.
Deliveries are to begin in the first quarter of 2024 with the final aircraft to arrive in the first quarter of 2027. Fifteen of the aircraft will be leased from Air Lease Corporation, five will be leased from AerCap and six are being acquired under a purchase agreement with Airbus S.A.S. The deal also includes purchase rights to acquire an additional 14 of the aircraft between 2027 and 2030.
The six direct purchases were previously listed as an undisclosed customer in the Airbus order book.
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