Air Canada (AC, Montréal Trudeau) sees potential for the A321-200NX(LR) to play a role in its flexible response approach to post-COVID capacity changes, President and Chief Executive Mike Rousseau said during the carrier's 1Q21 quarterly earnings call.

"I think we've done a pretty good job covering ourselves for growth beyond our expectations, but certainly also for even further fine-tuning and potentially getting rid of the A319-100s if the market doesn't come back as fast as we want it to. That gives us the opportunity to then step into potentially a new type of aircraft like the A321neo(LR)s, for example, that that potentially has a place in Air Canada's fleet as we go forward," Rousseau said.

The Canadian flag carrier is a sizeable operator of Airbus narrowbodies. Together with its leisure subsidiary Air Canada rouge (RV, Toronto Pearson), it operates eighteen A319-100s, nine A320-200s, and twenty A321-200s, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. Except for thirteen A321s operated by Air Canada rouge, all the remaining Airbus narrowbodies are over 12 years of age. The A319s are the oldest narrowbodies in the fleet averaging 23.6 years.

The airline owns the majority of its Airbus narrowbodies, except for two A319s, five A320s, and five A321s, which are dry-leased. This gives it the flexibility to park or reactivate the aircraft depending on the pace of recovery.

"We will probably keep our A319s a little bit longer than we expected. That's kind of our swing fleet as well, which provides us additional flexibility because most of those planes are owned," Rousseau said.

Air Canada also operates twenty-four B737-8s with a further sixteen on firm order from Boeing. It also operates nineteen A220-300s with a further twenty-six on order from Airbus. Rousseau stressed that Air Canada had further options for both the B737MAX and the A220s. It does not have any orders for A320neo Family aircraft.

Rousseau did not provide any further details regarding the potential addition of the long-range-capable Airbus narrowbodies. He already indicated an interest in the A321neo(LR) after Air Canada cancelled its order for ten B737 MAX in April 2020.

Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer Lucie Guillemette stressed that management plans to keep Air Canada rouge as a narrowbody-only operator, focusing its operations on routes to the United States and Central America.