Air Canada projected corporate travel in 2023 could recover to 75 percent to 80 percent of 2019 levels, according to the company’s March 30 Investor Day presentation. Leisure demand is expected to surpass 2019 levels by then.
Still, the carrier’s capacity plans lag even those demand-recovery dates. Air Canada reported 2022 capacity guidance of approximately 75 percent of 2019 levels, which represents an increase of about 150 percent from 2021 levels. The carrier forecast summer 2023 capacity to be 85 percent to 90 percent restored, and about 90 percent to 95 percent restored by summer 2024. Air Canada also projected a return to pre-pandemic levels of profitability by 2024.
The carrier will acquire 26 extra-long-range versions of the Airbus A321neo aircraft, which can be used for North American and select transatlantic routes, it announced March 22. Deliveries are to begin in the first quarter of 2024. The new aircraft will “advance [Air Canada’s] environmental goals” with a projected fuel efficiency gain of up to 23 percent versus its previous aircraft on transatlantic flights and up to 17 percent on North American flights, according to the company.
The new aircraft also will allow the carrier to expand its Signature Class service in North America with lie-flat business seats, according to Air Canada. The new planes will accommodate 182 passengers in a configuration of 14 lie-flat Signature seats and 168 Economy Class seats.