Up to a third of Canadian leisure carrier Air Transat’s Airbus A321LRs could be grounded late in 2024 due to its Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines needing to come off wing for inspections.
The extent of the carrier’s engine issues were revealed by chief executive Annick Guerard, who painted an optimistic picture of growth in 2024 during parent company Transat AT’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings call on 14 December.
But she also acknowledged that the carrier could face significant headwinds from Pratt & Whitney’s recall of hundreds of GTF engines to inspect for defective high-pressure turbine and compressor discs. As a result, hundreds of A320-family aircraft will be grounded across the airline industry through 2026.
“This situation involves anticipated inspection and removals of certain engines that power A321LR aircraft,” Guerard says. “We currently have three aircraft impacted and the numbers could reach five or six by the end of fiscal 2024.”
Air Transat operates 15 Airbus A321LRs, two of which are currently in storage, according to Cirium fleets data. It holds unfilled orders for five more of the type.
It plans to mitigate the groundings by extending existing aircraft leases, using spare engines and transferring some long-range routes to its fleet of 12 A330s. “While these reserves will involve short-term incremental cost, our objective is to maintain our position in the market,” Guerard says.
Transat has been “working in close collaboration with Pratt & Whitney” regarding the engine removals and inspections, she says. “They have been supportive in all aspects, including future financial compensation.”
The company on 14 December reported squeezing out a profit and generating C$765 million ($570 million) in revenue during its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended on 31 October.