Air Canada Acquiring Four Former Singapore Airlines A330s

Air Canada has just revealed an interesting fleet update for 2019.

Air Canada is acquiring four A330s

In 2019, Air Canada will acquire four Airbus A330s. All four of these planes are being acquired from TAP Air Portugal, which actually acquired these planes from Singapore Airlines in 2017. However, with TAP Air Portugal taking delivery of A330-900neo aircraft over the coming months, they’ll no longer need these A330s.

These A330s will feature Singapore Airlines interiors, meaning that they’ll have angled seats in business class. We’re not talking about a mild angled either, but rather quite a steep angle.


The style of business class seats on these planes (though this is a Fiji Airways cabin)

The plan is for the first of these planes to enter service with Air Canada in the second quarter of 2019. The plane will immediately feature the new livery, but won’t have the interiors updated until the end of 2019.

Logically you might be thinking “well that seems like an awful business class product, given that Air Canada otherwise has direct aisle access from every seat.” That’s indeed the case, so until these planes are reconfigured, Air Canada will simply sell these business class seats as premium economy, which is a treat.

For example, this is already scheduled for one route — Montreal to Algiers shows as being operated by this A330 as of June 6, 2019.

As you can see based on the seatmap, premium economy books into the business class cabin (and for an extra $27 over economy, that’s a very good deal):

Air Canada is reconfiguring all A330s

The above raises the question of how these A330s will be reconfigured. As it stands, Air Canada has reverse herringbone seats on all of their 787s and 777s.


Air Canada reverse herringbone business class

Meanwhile their A330s and 767s feature herringbone seats in business class.


Air Canada herringbone business class

Towards the end of 2019, Air Canada plans to start reconfiguring all A330s with reverse herringbone seats. This will include the four A330s being acquired from TAP Air Portugal/Singapore Airlines.

Air Canada is retiring mainline 767s

This might bring up the question of why Air Canada is acquiring four A330s. It’s because Air Canada plans to retire their existing fleet of 767s. As of now the airline has six of these in their mainline fleet, and in 2019 they’ll be retiring these planes.

Meanwhile 767s continue to be the plane that Air Canada uses for longhaul flights on their Rouge subsidiary.


Air Canada Rouge 767 cabin

Bottom line

Overall I’d consider this to be good news, both in the short term and long term. Air Canada will have a more consistent fleet, as they eliminate mainline 767s in favor of some extra A330s.

In the short term, premium economy passengers will be getting an excellent product. In the long term, all A330s will feature reverse herringbone seats in business class, which is excellent.

Comments

  1. This also shows how awful TAP’s business class is. TAP uses these planes (along with other even worse A330s and 340s) for long haul, and sells these seats as business class.

    Until such time as TAP takes delivery of all A330-900s it has on order, it is a Russian roulette game. You either get one of the old but nice refurbished A330s, or you get an awful A330 or A340 that TAP will not refurbish awaiting for the 900s.

  2. Singapore Airlines’ A330s actually have probably the world’s best angled flat product, due to the vast number of storage options, the comfortable seat “hardware”, and the relatively gentle angle. Of course that’s not saying a lot for a longhaul flight, but given this is premium economy… (I’d take it over the Tunisair/Air Tahiti Nui A340 version any day)

    Also, anyone else think paying $27 to upgrade from an economy seat to an angled-flat premium economy product is kind of a no-brainer?

    (Lastly, a disappointing number of airlines promised reverse herringbone on the A330 but eventually switched to something else – think Air France, Qatar Airways, etc.)

  3. This is not a great business class product but a superb premium economy product. Good for Air Canada for making that choice. If I understand it, Singapore would use these for their “regional” intra-Asia flights. I flew these A330s in their business class several times from Singapore to Japan, which ends up being close to an 8 hour flight… so pretty much long-haul by transatlantic standards.

  4. I flew one of these planes last week from Lisbon to Toronto. The plane was in reallly bad shape… It felt like time travelling to the late 90’s…

  5. @GoAmtrak: +1. I don’t think they’re very popular, but I for one really liked those 767s with the 2-3-2 economy class and early adopter of the herringbone business class product. They were the smallest of the recent widebodies so felt a bit more private and less packed. AC also used them for non-stop flights to secondary airport cities like Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa from LHR… it was fantastic to be able to fly non-stop instead of hubbing in Toronto or Calgary.

  6. Not hard to see why AC is the best airline in North America, although the bar is quite low. I recently flew to Paris with them, and it’s easily the nicest way to get from West Coast NA to Europe (in J).

  7. Lucky, what tools do you use to quickly determine what route a new aircraft has been assigned to? Seems unlikely that you just kept trying city pairs with random dates until you found what you were looking for.

  8. Isn’t Singapore Airlines famed for taking very good care of their planes. I’d assume that the plane is in very good condition though someone commented that they recently flew the A330 to Toronto and the plane looked tired.

    Where was Delta? They are usually the first to sniff an impending sale of old aircrafts and buying them.

  9. @ Sam — Quite the opposite. Singapore Airlines’ customer service is renowned, though they’re notorious for not being 100% on keeping their leased planes squeaky clean. China Airlines, EVA Air and Hong Kong Airlines have all acquired ex-Singapore planes, and things are broken here and there on all three.

  10. I recall an AC press release that said the 333 fleet would be YUL based. It is generally regarded as a lower yield market than YYZ or YVR so solder aircraft with cheaper costs make sense.

  11. #skedguy, AC successfully feeds intra-Canada, US and international flights via its hubs in YVR, YYZ and YUL. The A330s are being based in Montreal because of the aircraft’s more limited range. And actually, when the widebody refurbishment is completed, the A330s will be the most up-to-date plane in it’s fleet.

  12. @Alvin–thanks for the insights. How do we know which SQ aircrafts are leased and which are owned by them? I have heard some rumors that ex-SQ aircrafts are OK, but not as good as ex-ANA or ex-JAL birds.

    In general, which airlines are known for top-notch maintenance? Which are notorious for poor maintenance?

  13. The first year Etihad operated they used retired SQ A340 aircraft. Flew AUH-JNB and the seats in J were abysmal and thoroughly trashed.

  14. AC has already said that these aircraft will offer only Premium Economy and Economy fares. Those seats will not be sold as Signature/Business class.

  15. @TravelSafe As a CX flyer I always find their 20 year old 330 clean and well maintained, it’s usually when I checked them I realized their age (IFE performance especially abysmal airshow not included)

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