Ten years after taking delivery of its first A320, Air Canada has once again decided to boost its A320 Family fleet with the addition of 12 A321s, the first aircraft of the type for the airline, plus two A319s.
According to the purchase agreement signed today, deliveries are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2001. Air Canada's new A319s will seat 112 people in two classes, with 16 in first class and 96 in economy. The A321s will seat approximately 160 people in two classes. Air Canada is the second North American airline to order the A321, and the first in Canada.
The A320 Family aircraft (A318/A319/A320/A321) share the same type rating with identical flight decks and handling characteristics allowing pilots qualified to fly one of the type to operate any of the others. In addition, a unique level of operational commonality exists between the members of the A320 Family and the larger A330/A340 widebodies, of which Air Canada currently operates 16. This enhances operational flexibility, saving Air Canada time and money, since pilot transition training from one family to the other is minimal.
"Commonality among our Airbus aircraft, and the subsequent savings, are major drivers in the decision to grow our A320 Family fleet," said Robert Milton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada. "The combination of cost-effectiveness and passenger comfort continues to motivate us to return to Airbus."
"With the newly-reconfigured Air Canada now ranking as the world's 11th largest airline, it is a high compliment to Airbus that this carrier has opted to pursue its expansion with an Airbus fleet as its backbone," said Noël Forgeard, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus.
With this first firm order for A321s, Air Canada continues its pioneering relationship with Airbus. Just one year ago, Air Canada took delivery of its first A330. In 1990 it became the first airline in Canada to take delivery of an A320. In 1995, Air Canada became the first airline in North America to operate the A340-300, and in 1996 the first to fly the A319. The airline was also the first in North America to place a firm order for the A340-500/-600, with deliveries starting in 2002.
To date, the A320 Family has won over 2,500 firm orders from 102 customers, and more than 1,300 such aircraft are in service with 94 operators worldwide. This year, Airbus announced it will increase its A320 Family production rates from 22 to 30 aircraft per month by the end of 2002.
Air Canada Fleet To GrowWith 14 More A320 Family Aircraft