AIRCRAFTAIRLINEINSIGHTS

More Insights – Air Canada Boeing 777 Fleet Retrofit

Air Canada Boeing 777-200LR; C-FNND@HKG

Air Canada

Experience The Skies reported earlier that Air Canada will commence a retrofit program to bring the same on board experience on all its Boeing 777 aircrafts (refer to our coverage here for summery and tentative rollout schedule).

This post provides insights on the changes Air Canada will be making to its Boeing 777 fleet as it balances passenger experience and revenue generation.

Configuration by Numbers

777-200LR

Introduction to Air Canada’s Fleet – June 2007 for the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) non-stop flight

Number in Fleet – 6

Original seating capacity – 270

Configuration – Business Class: 1-2-1 (herringbone design) and Economy: 3-3-3. Both have AVOD IFEs, AC Power (available individually in business, shared in economy) and USB ports (available in all seats).

Retrofit capacity will go up from 270 to 300 as per the graph below:

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200 Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200 Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

The 11.1% increase is attributable to a 5% (-2) decrease in Business class seats, introduction of 24 Premium Economy seats (with a configuration of 2-4-2) and a 4.5% (+8) increase in Economy (with a configuration of 3-4-3).

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200 Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200 Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

777-300ER

Introduction to Air Canada’s Fleet – March 2007 for Canada – European flights to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Frankfurt Airport (FRA)

Number in Fleet – 12

Original seating capacity – 349

Configuration – Business Class: 1-2-1 (herringbone design) and Economy: 3-3-3. Both have AVOD IFEs, AC Power (available individually in business, shared in economy) and USB ports (available in all seats).

777-300HD

Introduction to Air Canada’s Fleet – August 2013 for the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Hong Kong International Airport

Number in Fleet – 5

Original seating capacity – 458 (which is 31% more than the 777-300ER variant).

Configuration – Business Class: 2-2-2 / 1-2-1 (depending on row) (staggered design), Premium Economy: 2-4-2 and Economy: 3-4-3. All classes have AVOD IFEs, AC Power (available at all seats) and USB ports (available at all seats).

Retrofit capacity for the 777-300ERs goes up from 349 to 400 while 777-300HDs reduces from 458 to 450 seats as per the graph below:

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER and 777-300HD Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER and 777-300HD Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

The 777-300ER variant receives the most capacity expansion of all the 777 variants at 14.6%. 51 additional seats will be added comprising of a 4.8% (-2) decrease in Business (with a 1-2-1 configuration – reverse herringbone design), introduction of 24 seats in Premium Economy (with a 2-4-2 configuration) and a 9.4% (+29) in Economy (with a 3-4-3 configuration – slimline design).

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

Air Canada will only retrofit its 777-300HDs with the new seats introduced on its new Boeing 787s. The reverse herringbone seats will reduce Business Class capacity by 22.2% (-8).

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300HD Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300HD Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

Analysis

When Experience The Skies first reported that Air Canada was about to embark on its Boeing 777 retrofit plans , our initial conclusion (refer to our analysis here) was that the total capacity for the 777-200LRs would be between 270 to 350 and the 777-300ERs would be between 390 to 446. We were accurate in our assessment.

In a consolidated basis, the overall impact with the retrofit will result in a 9.3% of total capacity (752 seats spread over 23 aircrafts). Introduction of the Premium Economy cabin into the 777-200LRs and 777-300ERs contributes 57% of the total increase followed by Economy at 52%. Business class seat supply had a -8% decrease overall. The further expansion of the Premium Economy product indicates that demands and yields are meeting Air Canada’s expectations.

Air Canada Boeing 777 Retrofit Consolidated Analysis
Air Canada Boeing 777 Retrofit Consolidated Analysis – information taken from the airline’s website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved)

Competitors

777-200LR

For comparison, the largest three operators of the 777-200LRs are Delta Air Lines (10), Emirates (10) and Qatar Airways (9). In combination with Air Canada, these four airlines operates approximately 78% (35/45) of this variant. All three are full service airlines with a mix of premium and economy classes of service.

By its introduction in 2016, Air Canada will operate the highest density 777-200LR when comparing with the other three. The increase capacity gap ranges from 3% with Delta Air Lines to 12.8% with Emirates.

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200LR Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-200LR Analysis- information taken from the airlines’ website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

777-300ER

Emirates (100+ aircrafts), Cathay Pacific Airways (52), Air France (34) are the three largest operators of the 777-300ERs.  For the Non-HD variant, Air Canada comes out on top of the highest capacity,  The airline is 12%, 45% and 32% denser than the competitors listed above. As a special note, Cathay Pacific is the only airline out of the four that still has a 3-3-3 configuration in Economy class. This contributes to its lower capacity.

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER (Non HD) Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER (Non-HD) Analysis- information taken from the airlines’ website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

In comparing the high density variant of the 777-300ER, three out of four (except for Cathay Pacific Airways  for the same reason discussed above) have over 425 seats. Air Canada is beaten by Air France’s dedicated Caribbean variant with 468 seats.

Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER HD) Analysis
Air Canada Retrofit Boeing 777-300ER HD) Analysis – information taken from the airlines’ website. Infographic created by Experience The Skies (All Rights Reserved).

Destinations / Pricing

Air Canada operates to destinations including London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Paris Charles du Gaulle (CDG) that have limited slot availability. Adding more seats on its aircrafts allow the airline to increase payload without adding frequency when that is not available.  This aircrafts can also be used to upgauge routes that are using the Boeing 787-8/-9 currently (including Toronto to New Delhi that Air Canada is starting in Fall 2015 (refer to the news here).

The introduction of Premium Economy will bring higher yields to the Montreal based airline. Pricing observed on announced routes is between 60-100% higher between the lowest Economy to Premium Economy fares.

Air Canada Perspective

Air Canada is spending money to bring consistency across its Boeing 777 fleet. This will help the airline reduce costs through the use of common parts, common training program and procedures.

An increase capacity will likely result in additional staff positions to ensure passenger experience would be maintain or exceed the current level.

While overall comfort will increase in the Business and Premium Economy cabins. Passengers in Economy class might experience reduced enjoyment in a smaller space. The airline may want to initiate a marketing program to address the shortcomings and encourage buy ups.

Consumer Perspective

  • Elite members of the airlines’ Altitude program may be disappointed with the retrofit news. The 777 fleet will have a decrease in Business Class capacity from between 5 to 22%. This will affect elite members’ ability to access upgrade space into that cabin. Savvy travellers looking to upgrade may avoid routes on the 777-300HD as there are only 28 Business Class seats vs 40 on the other variants.
  • Many business travellers whose company’s international travel policy only allows for Premium Economy class would be glad that the cabin would be introduced fleet wide. Selective elite members would also have access to these seats on domestic routes.
  • Economy class passengers would be impacted with the 3-4-3 configuration being introduced.  Width between seats would be reduced by the slimline seats being deployed. The one upside is that inflight entertainment boxes currently installed under some selective seats will likely be eliminated. This will provide more space under the seat.

 

 

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