Tuesday,  March 21, 2023  1:35 am

Air Canada expects its full-year capacity for 2024 to be 95% of 2019 levels

Air Canada expects its full-year capacity for 2024 to be 95% of 2019 levels
Michael Rousseau, president & CEO of Air Canada, provided a company update on Wednesday (March 30).
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Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Equipped with a plan to “rise higher” as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Canada unveiled its full-year outlook on Wednesday (March 30), outlining its intention to double its capacity this year compared with 2021.

Speaking at its 2022 Investor Day, Michael Rousseau, president and CEO of Air Canada, said the airline will reach 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity this summer, which will see the restoration 41 North American routes.

New services will launch to the U.S. from Montreal to Atlanta and Detroit, Toronto to Salt Lake City, and Vancouver to Austin. And, within Canada, three new routes will begin between Montreal and Gander, Calgary and Fort St John, and Vancouver and Halifax.

Air Canada will expand its international schedule this summer with 34 routes relaunching across the Atlantic and Pacific and, as well, return to the South Pacific as it restores flights to Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland

READ MORE: "Incredibly exciting": Air Canada restores Australia and New Zealand flights out of YVR

“The respiration of our network is positive proof that we are now in full recovery mode,” Rousseau said Wednesday, noting that delivering quality customer service will be “vital” to restoring loyalty in travellers as they start flying again.  

Still below 2019 levels

But Air Canada’s full-year capacity still remains below 2019 levels, coming in at roughly 75 per cent of where it was in 2019 as the global health situation evolves.

In a press release, the airline said it plans to increase its full-year 2022 ASM capacity by about 150 per cent from 2021 levels, adjusting when necessary to account for passenger demand and possible changes in public health guidelines.

Air Canada says it will reach 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity this summer. (Air Canada)

The company also expects its adjusted cost per available seat mile for 2022 to increase about 13 to 15 per cent when compared to 2019.

Looking ahead, Air Canada says it expects its 2024 capacity to be about 95 per cent of its 2019 level.

Returning to profitability

With travel returning thanks to eased border measures, Air Canada’s strategy is to return to profitability and increase long-term shareholder value, Rousseau said Wednesday.

“Our expectations for the long-term success of our airline give us confidence to set out key targets that will serve to drive continuous improvement within the company and provide transparency for investors to track our progress," he said.

Central to Air Canada’s efforts will be a continued emphasis on controlling costs while also making strategic investments, including those to advance ESG commitments, promote network growth, elevate the customer experience and heighten employee engagement.

“Through our focus on these priorities, propelled by our people and award-winning culture, we aim to command a highly competitive position emerging from the pandemic as a Canadian global champion,” Rousseau stated.

The company also plans to grow the membership base of its Aeroplan program by 40 per cent by the end of 2024, when compared to February 2019 levels.

The Airbus A321neo

The update comes one week after Air Canada announced that it will acquire 26 extra-long-range versions of the Airbus A321neo aircraft, which are expected to yield significant operational cost savings and environmental benefits.

Deliveries are set to begin in the first quarter of 2024 with the final aircraft to arrive in the first quarter of 2027, the airline said.

The new planes are also designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will help Air Canada fulfill its environmental commitments, which includes the goal of achieving net carbon neutrality by 2050.

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