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Air Canada: New Planes, New Seats, New Rules, and More

77W Delivery

Sparkling-new Air Canada 777-300ER C-FIVX at the Boeing Delivery Center, Paine Field, Everett WA. Photo: Bernie Leighton

It’s looking pretty busy at Air Canada (AC) and not just because they’ve launched their new “leisure airline,” rouge.

This summer, AC took delivery of the first two 777-300ERs from their latest five-plane order. When this order is completed, AC will have 17 -300ERs and 6 -200LRs in their international fleet. While AC’s new 777s look standard on the outside, they are very different inside.

Their newest 777s are configured in a new, three-class cabin, seating 458. That’s a huge 30% capacity increase from AC’s older 777-300ERs, which have 349 seats in a two-class arrangement. What all has changed? Obviously we had to take a closer look.

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Air Canada rouge – First Flight of a New “Leisure” Airline

Air Canada rouge's first flight takes off, from YYZ to KIN All photos courtesy: Air Canada rouge

Air Canada rouge’s first flight takes off – A319 from YYZ to KIN
All photos courtesy: Air Canada rouge

With Monday morning’s A319 flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Kingston, Jamaica (KIN), Air Canada rouge became the second new Canadian airline to begin operation in as many weeks. Rouge’s startup fleet has 2 A319-100s and 2 767-300s, all previously flown by Air Canada. Initial Caribbean destinations for the A319s are in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

The 767s will fly to Athens, Edinburgh and Venice, all departing from Toronto or Montreal (YUL). More destinations will be added to the schedule as rouge receives additional aircraft from Air Canada. Many of their vacation routes will be transferred from Air Canada as the rouge fleet grows. They’re planning to ultimately have 20 767s and 30 A319s, as Air Canada takes delivery of 787s and additional 777s. The new airline has its own operating certificate, but is wholly-owned by Air Canada. It’ll be integrated into AC’s website and Aeroplan frequent-flier program.

Air Canada calls rouge a “new leisure airline”. It’s part of the new Air Canada Leisure Group, which includes Air Canada Vacations, which has been around for many, many years. The new Group competes with established Canadian tour operators/airlines Transat, Sunwing, and of course, Westjet. As rouge expands it’s US destinations, I wouldn’t be surprised if it tries to repatriate Canadian passengers heading to Plattsburgh and Niagara Falls NY, and Bellingham, WA for cheaper flights.

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