With the arrival today in Montreal of its first widebody Airbus A330, Air Canada becomes the first scheduled airline in North America to operate the state-of-the-art twin-engine jet.
By July 2001, Air Canada will have taken delivery of a total of six ultra-efficient Airbus A330-300 aircraft equipped with twin Rolls Royce 700 engines. The airline has configured the new A330 aircraft to seat 272 customers: 44 in Executive and 228 in Hospitality class, compared to a total of 264 seats in its sister ship, the A340. Air Canada`s new A330s feature exceptionally comfortable seats, a roomy cabin and leading-edge Sony Passport entertainment systems.
The A330, with a range of 9,250 kilometres, generous seating capacity and top-of-the-line customer features, is ideally suited to many of Air Canada`s transcontinental and transatlantic markets. As the airline receives the modern, cost-efficient jets at a rate of two a year, they will be deployed on routes such as: Montreal-Paris, Vancouver-Toronto and high-demand short haul routes such as the Toronto-Montreal Rapidair service. The A330 uses 28 per cent less fuel per seat than its predecessors, making it more cost efficient and environment-friendly.
“Our on-going fleet renewal program is designed to equip Air Canada with the most modern, comfortable and economical aircraft available,” said Robert A. Milton, President and Chief Executive officer. “The A330 is an ultra-efficient, twin-engine aircraft that is virtually identical to the A340. This gives Air Canada a competitive advantage—thanks, in part, to fleet commonality.”
“We have strategically built a fleet with a high degree of commonality. This is important to our customers and our shareholders because it means lower costs to introduce, operate and maintain our fleet. It also allows us to better match the right aircraft with market demand, particularly during seasonal fluctuations, while providing more of the non-stop services that travellers value.”
Commonality means that the similarity between aircraft types results in lower costs. For example, between the A330 and the A340 there is unrestricted interchange of flight crews which means reduced training costs. The commonality between the A330 and A340 extends to spare parts and flight simulator, resulting in economies of scale and a lower capital cost for the aircraft introduction.
Air Canada`s fleet modernization program gives it one of the youngest fleets in the world, with an average age of less than eight years. Air Canada was the first airline in Canada to operate the Airbus A320 when it took delivery of its first Airbus aircraft in January 1990. In 1995, Air Canada took delivery of its first A340, the mainstay of the airline`s transpacific routes. Air Canada was also the first North American carrier to operate the A319, the first of which was introduced on the Toronto-Boston route December 1996 during the airline`s aggressive Canada-U.S. Open Skies transborder expansion.
The Air Canada fleet consists of: 12 Airbus A340s, 34 Airbus A320s, 35 Airbus A319s, 3 Boeing B747-400s, 29 Boeing B767s, 17 Boeing DC-9s and 25 Canadair Regional Jets.