Air Canada's CS300s could enable broad network changes
Though Air Canada has described its incoming Bombardier CS300s as replacements for Embraer 190s, a top Air Canada executive has suggested the fleet plan could evolve.
Air Canada president of passenger airlines Benjamin Smith says the new Bombardier aircraft could prove as transformative as Boeing 787s, allowing Air Canada to make broader network changes.
During an interview with FlightGlobal at Toronto Pearson International airport on 9 February, Smith makes clear that Air Canada's plan calls for the CS300 to replace the E190.
"But that's assuming our network is static," he adds.
"This airplane is so good [that] we think it's going to want to go on every route in North America," Smith says of the CS300.
"The economics – it's got CASM rates that are equivalent to much larger airplanes. So it may enable us, or give us the opportunity, to rethink our bank structures, how our network is designed," he adds.
Air Canada has orders for 45 CS300s, with deliveries scheduled for between 2019 and 2022, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer. The 25 E190s scheduled for replacement are only about 10 years old, Fleets Analyzer shows.
"It's kind of like the 787," Smith says of the CSeries.
Air Canada initially ordered 787s as replacements for ageing Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s.
But the 787s proved so efficient on long-haul routes that Air Canada instead used them to launch a major international expansion, Smith says.
Air Canada ended up keeping the A330s in its mainline fleet, and transitioned the 767s to its newly-created low-cost subsidiary Rouge, Smith notes.
Thanks to the 787, Air Canada "rejiggered our entire network," Smith says. "If we can hit a similar home run with the CSeries, that would be amazing."
CSeries would be "perfect" for a route such as Vancouver to Boston, which "stretches the legs of the Airbus narrowbody", Smith says.
Or, Air Canada could potentially deploy CS300s from extreme-eastern Canadian cities to destinations in Europe, or from Vancouver to Hawaii, Smith says.
Smith says Air Canada remains confident Bombardier will meet its delivery schedule, downplaying the possibility that recent delivery delays could stretch into the coming years.
"We don't have a concern about the delivery schedule on the CSeries," Smith says. "We have a long history with Bombardier. We know their leadership extremely well."