Air Canada to use business class-only A319s on commercial routes

Image : Eric Salard /

Air Canada Jetz has announced that the airline plans to commence commercial passenger operations on June 1, 2020, with flights from Toronto (YYZ) to Montreal (YUL) and from Toronto (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW). The Air Canada (ADH2) subsidiary expects to operate these flights using their spacious cabin layout onboard their Airbus A319 aircraft – which features a business class-only configuration.

The Air Canada Group initially suspended the majority of its international flights, including those to the United States on March 18, 2020. According to the airline’s statement, the reason for this was “in response to decisions by national governments, including Canada and the United States to close borders and restrict commercial aviation as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The Canadian airline has tried to maintain a skeleton network throughout April and continue some services to all ten Canadian provinces, “albeit with a significantly reduced network.” This significantly reduced network for the month of April includes flying to only six cities in Europe and Asia out of 101 destinations that the Canadian carrier operates to. However, with the collapse of sporting and concert events, their charter service, Air Canada Jetz has been grounded for a substantially longer period of time.

Air Canada President and Chief Executive Officer, Calin Rovinescu said that “the restrictions on travel imposed by governments worldwide, while understandable, are nonetheless having a cataclysmic effect upon the global airline industry.”

As travel restrictions are eased and demand begins to pick up, Air Canada Jetz is keen to increase travel domestically. The subsidiary was established in 2001 and is the official carrier for all seven of Canada’s ice-hockey teams. Due to the postponement of contact sports not only in Canada but across the world. The airline has had to adapt its charter services due to the cancellation of sporting and music events. The charter airline has announced that it will now use its 3 Airbus A319 aircraft for domestic passenger services. The aircraft consists of 58 seats onboard compared to the standard 120 seats available on most Airbus A319s. Due to the reduced seating capacity (business class-only), this may attract customers to use the airline when it begins flights at the beginning of June.

Flights will operate from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa airports, with the airline stating that flights will depart “from prime gate locations.” These flights will strictly be domestic services between all three airports and the airline is confident that it can “begin boarding only 25 minutes before departure.” This results in less waiting time boarding and disembarking the aircraft due to the limited number of passengers.

Even with the expectation of this new service beginning in June, the Air Canada Group is still waiting for an industry-specific aid package that was promised by the government in April. Since then the Canadian airline group has had to furlough almost 20,000 employees and losses for the parent company topped $1 billion for the first quarter.

However, the Canadian government has hinted at giving financial support to airlines in Canada, however, important financial details still remain unclear. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau is quoted as saying: “We need to continue to have a strong airline sector, once this is all done. We’re looking very carefully at how to support industries like that, that are so important to Canada and to Canadians.”

All eyes are on the Canadian government as we wait to see if the Canadian airlines will be granted some form of financial aid during this unprecedented crisis.

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