Its fleet beset by grounded Airbus A321LRs needing work on their Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines, Canadian airline company Transat AT is adding both newly leased and previously ordered aircraft to partially offset the lost capacity. 

“In light of expected grounded A321LR aircraft, we have recently secured three A330 aircraft leases to support network needs for the upcoming year as planned,” chief executive Annick Guerard said during the company’s 14 March earnings call. 

The parent of Montreal-based carrier Air Transat also expects to have four new A321LRs delivered within the next several weeks. The carrier currently has 12 examples of the long-range narrowbody in service, according to Cirium fleets data. 

AIr Transat Airbus A321neo

Source: Shutterstock

Air Transat is expecting four new A321LRs within the next month, according to CEO Annick Guerard

The fleet additions will partially offset A321LRs grounded due to PW1100G engine issues. Air Transat has reduced its expectations for full-year capacity gains, to an increase of 13% from a previously estimated 19% increase. 

Transat currently has four of the long-range A321neos out of service for PW1100G engine work, with that number expected to rise to five or six by the end of the company’s fiscal year on 31 October. 

”Due to the operating challenges caused by the Pratt & Whitney engine situation, as well as the problems affecting the Boeing 737 Max, a number of carriers are looking for aircraft,” Guerard says. ”Those issues, combined with an already stressed to supply chain, are putting important pressures on the availability and the cost of aircraft.” 

P&W’s recall of hundreds of PW1100G powerplants requires those engines to come off-wing for inspection and repair – a process that takes months. Hundreds of A320neo-family aircraft are grounded globally as a result. 

Transat’s “adaptive contingency plan” and a “satisfying” financial settlement with P&W over its grounded A321LRs will be critical for the company’s full-year performance, Guerard says.

Transat lost C$61 million ($45 million) during its fiscal first quarter ended 31 January, compared with a C$57 million loss during the equivalent prior-year period. 

The company attributes the loss to GTF engine woes and ”persistent speculations throughout the quarter about a potential strike by our flight attendants that led to a decline in airline unit revenues that was greater than the decrease in unit costs”. 

Transat’s quarterly revenue increased nearly 18% year on year, to C$785 million in the fiscal first quarter. 

Expenses dragged on the company’s results, as the cost of aircraft maintenance increased by nearly half and salary costs were 22% higher on the quarter. Fees charged by airports and air traffic control entitites increased about 25%. 

The company held about C$453 million in cash and equivalents on 31 January, an increase from C$436 million on the same date last year.