Air Canada (AC, Montréal Trudeau) has reached a deal with Cargo Aircraft Management, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group, for the sale, conversion, and lease-back of two B767-300(ER)s. Redeliveries should take place by the end of the year.

The Canadian flag carrier said in November last year that it would leverage its large fleet of surplus B767s to further develop its in-house cargo operations. As such, the first two Boeing widebodies are expected to be inducted for conversion in March 2021. Upon redelivery, they will become Air Canada's first in-house dedicated freighters.

"We are looking forward to delivering these airplanes and extending our special partnership with Air Canada. We continue to see growth outside of the United States, and ATSG continues to enable great companies to take advantage of growing global e-commerce and mobile-commerce trends," ATSG's Chief Commercial Officer Mike Berger said.

The ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows that Air Canada owns four stored B767-300(ER)s. Its wholly-owned subsidiary Air Canada rouge (RV, Toronto Pearson) formally continues to operate 19 of the type, including one of the four owned by its parent and 18 dry-leased from various lessors. In practice, however, all of them are parked. Air Canada rouge tentatively plans to reactivate some of them on March 29, the ch-aviation schedules module shows.

While Air Canada never had a sizeable fleet of in-house freighters, it used to operate DC-8-63(F)s and DC-8-73(F)s through the early 1990s. That said, it currently uses six A330-300s and three B777-300(ER)s as makeshift freighters.

Cargo Aircraft Management currently owns 105 B767s (out of 116 aircraft in its portfolio) in various variants, including forty-eight B767-300(ERBDSF)s. It leases aircraft both to ATSG's group carriers ABX Air (GB, Wilmington, OH), ATI - Air Transport International (8C, Wilmington, OH), and Omni Air International (OY, Tulsa Int'l), and outside the group. Its sole Canadian customer at this moment is Cargojet Airways (W8, Hamilton, ON) with one B767-200(ERBDSF), one B767-300(ERBCF), and three B767-300(ERBDSF)s dry-leased from CAM.

In other news, Air Canada announced it would lay off an additional 1,700 employees, and another 200 at its regional capacity providers Jazz Air and Sky Regional Airlines, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert downward pressure on overall demand. The layoffs remain subject to union negotiations.

The carrier said that as a result of new, more stringent border restrictions and testing requirements implemented in Canada, it would reduce its first-quarter capacity by a further 25% to about 20% of 2019 levels.

"We have seen an immediate impact to our close-in bookings and have made the difficult but necessary decision to further adjust our schedule and rationalize our transborder, Caribbean and domestic routes to better reflect expected demand and to reduce cash burn," the carrier said.