Air Canada Rouge to retire Boeing 767s, focus on narrow-body jets post-coronavirus

May 4, 2020

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Air Canada budget subsidiary Rouge will retire many of its Boeing 767 jets as it moves towards exiting long-haul international flying due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to park many of Rouge’s 25 767-300ERs come amid a wider plan to retire 79 jets from the fleet of Air Canada and its subsidiaries, the Montreal-based carrier unveiled on Monday. Gone already are its Embraer 190s — previously due for replacement with new Airbus A220s by year-end — and going are another 65 Airbus A319s and 767s in the months to come.

Air Canada flew 16 A319s, five 767s and 14 E190s, and Rouge flew 22 A319s and 25 767s at the end of March.

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“Rouge is going to continue to be an integral part of Air Canada, albeit as primarily a narrow-body operator into leisure markets,” said Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu during a first quarter earnings call Monday.

While some Rouge 767s may stick around, it does not appear they will be flying long-haul routes.

Air Canada chief financial officer Michael Rousseau said during the call that “key international destinations” served by Rouge in Europe would be covered with Air Canada-operated Airbus A330s or high-density Boeing 777s in the future. He did not mention any of the budget airline’s services to South America.

The latest Rouge map shows service to 17 cities in Europe, including Athens (ATH), Berlin (TXL) and Lisbon (LIS), and four cities in South America as far away as Lima (LIM).

Related: Air Canada suspends all US flights, likely for first time in nearly 80 years

The Air Canada Rouge route map prior to the coronavirus pandemic. (Image courtesy of Rouge)
The Air Canada Rouge route map prior to the coronavirus pandemic. (Image courtesy of Rouge)


Air Canada does not plan to replace the 767s. The retirements are part of an effort to shrink the carrier in the face of what Rovinescu said will be an at least three-year recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re effectively putting the airline in a state of hibernation, unwinding a decade of international growth,” he said. “Realistically, we expect it to take [at least] three years for Air Canada to get back to 2019 levels of revenue and service.”

Some of the A319s slated for retirement will be replaced by new Boeing 737 MAX jets when the type gets re-certified for service. The E190s are being replace by new A220s, the only new plane that Air Canada appears to continue to take delivery of.

Air Canada is due to take 14 more A220-300s by year-end, its latest fleet plan shows. The aircraft are paid for with a new loan agreement that was reached in April.

Related: Onboard Air Canada’s first Airbus A220


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Checking out Air Canada’s first A220 ✈️ #avgeek

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Featured image by Zach Griff/TPG.

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