ISTAT: Air Canada narrowbody RFP imminent

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Air Canada will release a request for proposals (RFP) to narrowbody aircraft manufacturers this quarter.

The Montreal-based Star Alliance carrier is seeking a replacement for its Airbus A320 family and Embraer 190 aircraft, says George Zarikos, manager of aircraft programmes at Air Canada, on the sidelines of the ISTAT Americas 2013 conference in Orlando today.

The RFP will be released to all narrowbody aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, with an order placed in the third quarter if all goes as planned, he says.

Calin Rovinescu, president and chief executive of Air Canada, said that the narrowbody order would cover the airline's 75- to 160-seat fleet, during an earnings call in November 2012.

Zarikos declines to specify the size of the possible order.

Air Canada operates a fleet of 145 narrowbodies - 38 A319s, 37 A320s, 10 A321s, 15 E175s and 45 E190s - according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.

The airline is in the process of transitioning the E175s to its regional partner Sky Regional, which it anticipates to complete in June. It will also move 20 A319s to its new leisure subsidiary Rouge by December 2015.

Zarikos says that the performance of Rouge could impact its fleet plan and alter its needs for new narrowbodies. The low-cost carrier is slated to begin service in July.