Air Canada defends tightly-configured economy

6 Feb 2015 by GrahamSmith

Air Canada has defended its decision to install tightly-configured seating in economy on its B787-9 Dreamliner and B777-300ER aircraft.

Bob Atkinson, the airline's general manager of sales in the UK, Ireland and northern Europe, told Business Traveller that the carrier has a "range of products which meet a big cross-section of the travelling public".

The news that Air Canada will install 298 seats on its forthcoming B787-9 with 30 in business, 21 in premium economy and 247 in economy (see news, December 10) didn't impress our readers. Fitting ten-across economy seating on its B777-300ER was also unpopular (see news, February 2013).

Air Canada B787-8

Air Canada's B787-8

But Atkinson said the layout is good news for those in economy wanting value for money, and that business travellers have premium economy and business class to choose from.

He said: "We have a range of products for the price that people are willing to pay.

"You've got people [working for] large corporations, presumably in accordance with their travel policy, in international business class.

"Then you have another brand — either because of their status within the company or because they're paying for the trip themselves as an SME — of customer who is probably paying for it themselves rather than have a corporate travel department do it... so they're looking for something as well. The international premium economy product caters for them.

"And then we have the leisure passenger who's also wanting value for money and having that number of seats in economy allows the fare levels to be set at competitive levels.

"So, we think from that point of view, we've got a range of products which meet a big cross-section of the travelling public."

The carrier currently has six B787-8 Dreamliners in its fleet. It is due to take delivery of a further nine B787-8s and 22 B787-9s by the end of 2019.

Air Canada was the second airline to move into Heathrow Terminal 2 last summer (see news, June 18), after Star Alliance partner United. It opened its Maple Leaf lounge a week later (see news, June 24).

Atkinson said the new terminal has proved a complete success for both Air Canada and passengers.

He said: "We've been really excited about this — it's been a long time coming. At last, we have a 21st century facility for the 21st century customer.

"The experience, we're finding, and the feedback we're getting from customers, is very positive and that's very good news."

He added: "We've got 22 [Star Alliance] airlines in here. So from a connectivity point of view, that's great because you don't have to spend half a day going over to another terminal or trying to navigate your way around.

"It means connection times are more competitive. It's easy."

Graham Smith

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