Air Canada to add seats and premium economy to 777 fleet

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Air Canada will spend about C$300 million ($275.6 million) on modifications to boost capacity and add premium economy to its Boeing 777 fleet, say the carrier’s executives during a 15 May earnings call.

The Montreal-based airline will add 51 seats to its 777-300ER models, and 30 seats to its -200LRs.

The 777-300ER capacity will jump from 349 to 400 seats after the re-configuration. Air Canada’s website shows that the aircraft today are outfitted with 42 international business class seats and 307 economy seats.

The 777-200LRs would have 300 seats after the modifications, compared to 270 today. The aircraft are laid out with 42 business class seats and 228 economy seats.

The interior modification project will begin in late 2015 and run through the second half of 2016, says Air Canada.

In addition to providing premium economy, the airline will refurbish its international business class offering to match that of its Boeing 787s, which includes B/E Aerospace lie-flat seats in 20 “executive pods”.

The new seating configurations will make Air Canada more competitive on routes the 777s fly and provide business travellers a more consistent experience across the 777 fleet.

The decision comes after Air Canada saw success with its high-density Boeing 777s with 458 seats, which Air Canada has introduced on routes between Montreal and Paris, Montreal and London Heathrow, Vancouver and Hong Kong, Vancouver and London Heathrow and Toronto and Vancouver. Rovinescu notes that these aircraft were “specific tools” for certain markets rather than the baseline for the entire 777 fleet, and notes that the older 777s will not have as dense of a configuration.