Air Canada is seeking a new regional carrier to replace Halifax-based Jazz Aviation as the operator of certain transborder routes between Canada and the USA as part of its announcement today to initiate a request for proposals (RFP) for the flying.
Air Canada says it will look for either a new carrier or existing regional partner to replace Jazz on these routes, and will not accept a bid by Jazz in the process.
“The objective of the RFP is cost reduction and diversification,” Air Canada tells Flightglobal. “A Jazz bid would therefore not be accepted.”
The airline tells Flightglobal that it will “abide by all terms” of its existing capacity purchase agreement (CPA) with Jazz in this process, which has terms effective through 2020. The contract includes a guarantee for Jazz to operate a minimum fleet of 122 aircraft for Air Canada under this agreement.
The agreement does not affect Air Canada’s mainline pilot contract, as the routes are all operated by Jazz, says the carrier.
In an earlier response to news of the RFP, Jazz Aviation told Flightglobal: “We would welcome the opportunity to bid on this work and remain open and willing to discuss all opportunities with Air Canada.”
Jazz Aviation performs a majority of the regional flying under the Air Canada Express banner. It operates Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s, Bombardier CRJ200 and CRJ700s and smaller Dash 8-100 and -300 turboprops.
Jazz Aviation’s parent company Chorus Aviation is undergoing several initiatives to reduce costs in light of the competitive regional environment, including consolidating its heavy maintenance lines and opening a new operations centre.
Air Canada has partnerships with three other Canadian regional airlines in addition to Jazz, which operates a majority of the short-haul routes under the Air Canada Express banner. Sky Regional operates five 70-seat Q400 aircraft out of the Billy Bishop Toronto City airport and in February begun service with 15 Embraer 175 regional jets on mostly transborder routes to the northeastern USA. Exploits Valley Air Services (EVAS) Air Charters and Air Georgian also perform service for the carrier with smaller 18-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft.
Air Canada tells Flightglobal it will not consider transferring its Embraer 190 regional jets out of its mainline fleet as it did with its 15 Embraer 175s earlier this year, as it is not permitted in its pilot agreement. Air Canada transitioned those 15 jets to Sky Regional between February and September of this year to take advantage of the airline partner’s lower cost structure.