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Tue, May 23, 2023

Air Canada & Boeing Near 787 Dreamliner Deal

High Times At Big-B

Air Canada and Boeing are reportedly nearing a deal that would see the airline—Canada’s largest—acquire as many as twenty 787 Dreamliners. The inchoate agreement speaks to expectations of a rebounding global aviation market and a commensurately heightened demand for long-haul wide-body airliners such as those of indigenous to Boeing’s popular 787 aircraft family.

Speaking at the airline’s first quarter 2023 analysis call, Air Canada CFO Amon Kazzaz stated: "Overall, we continue to always hunt for lift, as we've said before in our process. When we see recovery and strong demand, we have the ability to go out and search for additional interim lift. And, we're constantly in the market looking for lift and we'll see our ability to bring that in and be able to line up with [our] network plans."

While the specifics of the dialogue between Boeing and Air Canada remain unknown, such a deal is consistent with the Canadian flag-carrier’s projected fleet needs and the auguries of aviation industry analysts.

Currently, Air Canada operates a fleet of 38 Dreamliners, thirty of which are nine-series variants and the remaining eight of which are lower-capacity eight-series models. All told, Air Canada’s Dreamliner fleet is fairly young, with an average airframe age of 7.4 years.

Data from ch-aviation—the Chur, Switzerland-based airline intelligence provider—shows Air Canada has yet to take delivery of two previously purchased nine-series Dreamliners, the acquisition of which would boost the airline's 787 fleet to a total of forty airframes.

All 787-9 models are stock configured with 298 seats comprising: thirty business-class, 21 premium economy-class, and 247 economy-class. Conversely, the lower-capacity 787-8 model is stock configured with 255 seats comprising: twenty business-class, 21 premium economy-class, and 214 economy class.

Given the current composition of its 787 fleet, Air Canada is apt to weigh future Dreamliner orders in favor of the higher-capacity nine-series aircraft. Were the airline to seek even more capacity, Boeing’s 787-10, the U.S. airframer’s most capacious Dreamliner variant, would suit Air Canada’s needs while not significantly increasing pilot training costs—as the 777/787 common type-rating covers all 787 variants.

By dint of worldwide COVID restrictions broadly enacted in March 2020 and largely abrogated by June 2022, the global airline industry has struggled to cope with resurgent post-COVID demand for air travel. Planemakers, too, have scrambled to keep up with air-carriers’ unrelenting demand for new airliners—narrow and wide-body alike. Comes now 2023 and significant restorations of supply-chains and employee rosters, and the waxing optimism of both the airline and airplane marketplace’s tenors. 

Presently in excess of pre-COVID levels, demand for air-travel is projected to rise further still. Compelled by such prognostications, air-carriers are currently and aggressively angling for larger shares of the forecasted boon—alternately resurrecting mothballed super-jumbos and placing massive aircraft orders with the world’s preeminent airframers. Between December 2022 and May 2023 air-carriers such as United, Lufthansa, Air India, and Ryanair placed firm orders for hundreds upon hundreds of Boeing and Airbus airliners. In addition to Air Canada, Delta and Turkish Airlines are reportedly considering major wide-body purchases.



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