Air Canada slashes Rouge fleet, shrinks mainline

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | May 5, 2020

Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 12 seconds.

In releasing its first quarter financial results on May 4, Air Canada said it expects both the airline industry and its own operations to be considerably smaller for years to come. Canada’s flag carrier estimated it will take at least three years to return to 2019 capacity levels and operating revenues.

Rouge has allowed Air Canada to compete with ultra-low-cost carriers. The airline focuses on sun markets in the winter and transatlantic routes in the summer. Galen Burrows Photo
Prior to the pandemic, Rouge operated a total of 65 aircraft. After planned fleet cuts, the carrier will be reduced to just 18. Galen Burrows Photo

Air Canada has reduced its second quarter capacity by 85 to 90 per cent when compared to one year ago. Third quarter capacity is expected to be down by about 75 per cent when compared to Q3 2019, said its report.

That drastic capacity cut has necessitated a sharp reduction to its fleet.

Air Canada said it will move quickly to retire 79 older aircraft, including Boeing 767, Airbus 319 and Embraer 190 aircraft. The E190s will be retired immediately.

According to Skies contributor Howard Slutsken on Twitter, the fleet cuts will affect both the mainline operation as well as Air Canada Rouge. He reports that the mainline will lose five Boeing 767s, 13 Airbus A319s and 14 Embraer E190s.

The Air Canada website says Rouge operated a total of 65 aircraft pre-pandemic, including Boeing 767, Airbus A321, A320 and A319 models. It is set to lose all of its 767s and A319s, leaving it with just 18 Airbus A320 and 321s.

Air Canada Jetz, the charter operation, will retain its three Airbus A319 aircraft configured with 58 business class seats, reported Slutsken.

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  1. A sad day to see our beloved national air carrier have to be reduced in size due to circumstances beyond its control. It was always our choice of airlines while doing business travel. It kept pace with all the changes in the airline industries, making it one of the best. I hope that it can survive the continued market changes over the next three years.

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