Air Transat (TS, Montréal Trudeau) parent firm Transat A.T. Inc. has signed a seasonal capacity sharing agreement with Thomas Cook Group in which the two parties will exchange aircraft on a seasonal basis. The move will allow both companies to manage and utilize their fleet more efficiently.

Under the seven-year deal, which commences this year, Thomas Cook will, every winter, avail "a number" of A321-200s to Air Transat while the Canadian carrier will, in turn, avail at least one A330-200 to the European leisure group whose units include Thomas Cook Airlines UK, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, and Condor.

The partnership will exploit either side's capacity requirements which fluctuate from season to season. For its part, Air Transat requires greater narrowbody capacity in winter to serve destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida, and larger aircraft in summer to serve the transatlantic market. In contrast, Thomas Cook uses narrowbodies in summer to service its Mediterranean network while widebodies are required in winter for long-haul services to the Caribbean.

"This agreement marks a new step in the reconfiguration of our fleet," Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat, said. "It allows us to improve our flexible-fleet model, making it even more efficient. Our fleet will eventually consist solely of Airbus A330 and aircraft from the A320 family, such as the A321, which will mean a more harmonized travel experience for our customers as well as lower operating costs."

Eustache added that this agreement forms the second part of Air Transat's fleet renewal and consolidation plan.

The first entailed the Canadian carrier's announcement in June that it would replace its nine A310-300s with ten A321neo (Long Range) on lease from AerCap. The aircraft will deliver between spring 2019 and autumn 2020. This capacity sharing agreement is the second step in that optimization and will see Air Transat's seasonal B737s replaced by A321s. The third step will be the replacement of the B737-800s in its core fleet, which today number seven, also by A321s. At the same time, Air Transat says it has sought to extend the leases on a significant number of its A330 aircraft in order to benefit from lower leasing costs while ensuring stability for the years to come.