Air Canada Adding Transatlantic 737 Flights

Thanks to technological advancements, airlines are flying smaller planes on longer routes than ever before. Decades ago, the only plane that could operate ultra longhaul flights was the 747. However, it’s tough to fill a 747, at least with decent yields, and that’s true in spite of how increasingly mobile the global population has become.


Virgin Atlantic 747

As a result we’ve seen ultra longhaul flights in many cases switch from 747s to 787s, and some shorter range flights switch from 767s to 737s. The 787 and A350 have disrupted ultra longhaul travel, and with the introduction of the 737 MAX and A320 NEO, we’re seeing a similar disruption in the medium-haul market.


Ethiopian A350

Several airlines have already announced transatlantic 737 flights. The most notable is probably Norwegian, which is operating 737 MAX aircraft on transatlantic flights out of Stewart, Hartford, and Providence.

While this is a method we expected from low cost carriers, it’s interesting to see global airlines take a similar approach. Air Canada has just announced that they will operate the 737 MAX on select transatlantic flights. The airline will be taking delivery of their first 737 MAX later this month, and will eventually operate the plane between Canada and Ireland.

The new flights, which will go on sale on September 19, 2017, and operate 4x weekly starting in June 2018, will have the following schedules:

AC820 Toronto to Shannon departing 10:00PM arriving 9:30AM (+1 day) [Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat]
AC821 Shannon to Toronto departing 10:30AM arriving 12:45PM [Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat]

AC818 Montreal to Dublin departing 9:15PM arriving 8:25AM (+1 day) [Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat]
AC819 Dublin to Montreal departing 10:20AM arriving 12:00PM [Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat]

The flight out of Montreal will cover a distance of 2,973 miles, while the flight out of Toronto will cover a distance of 3,191 miles, well within the plane’s range.

Per Air Canada’s press release:

“With the right aircraft for the right market, Air Canada appears to have the luck of the Irish and we want to share it with our customers. Beginning summer 2018, we will capitalize on the growing traffic between Canada and Ireland and launch two new routes to IrelandToronto to Shannon and Montreal to Dublin,” said Benjamin Smith, President Passenger Airlines at Air Canada.

“Along with these new services, Air Canada is also enhancing its non-stop TorontoDublin service by increasing weekly frequencies to four from three, including daily service next summer, and transitioning it to Air Canada mainline from Air Canada Rouge. It will offer customers amenities such as fully lie flat suites in International Business Class, a Premium Economy cabin and seatback in-flight entertainment throughout the Airbus A330 aircraft that will fly this route. As well, we are also resuming our seasonal VancouverDublin non-stop service next summer on an expanded basis, with up to five flights weekly between the two cities. Taken together, Air Canada will offer the best market coverage of any carrier between Canada and Ireland, with service between three hubs in Canada and two destinations in Ireland,” said Mr. Smith.

Keep in mind that Air Canada’s 737 MAXs will have a standardized configuration, so you can expect business class on the route to be similar to what you’d get on a domestic flight. At least that’s my understanding as of now, though Air Canada hasn’t formally revealed the configuration for their 737. I guess we’ll find out within the next week, when the flight goes on sale.

Interestingly this won’t be Air Canada’s first transatlantic flight on a narrowbody. The airline also operates a flight from St. John’s to London Heathrow on an A319. I can’t help but always feel like the plane looks a bit lost when I see it at Heathrow. That flight is significantly shorter, though, at just 2,322 miles — it’s even shorter than some transcons.

Are you excited about the new routes that the 737 MAX makes possible, or would you avoid such a plane on a transatlantic flight?

(Tip of the hat to No Name)

Comments

  1. 737 TATL. No problem. But if you’re going to fly these aluminium cans across that big ol’ pool of water, you’ll have to have a long haul seat configuration. And that applies to all classes. If you expect me to fly TATL in a Euro C, you’re dead wrong.

  2. They definitely have plans to do a replica of the 777HD (458 seats). They are probably thinking they can jam 220 people on the plane!

  3. So what will the difference be in comfort between AC Y on a 777 and AC Y on a 737Max? They are likely to have similar width and legroom — not enough. I don’t understand the folks who say that 4.5 hours in a 737 will be much worse than a widebody.

    As Todd hinted, Westjet is flying TATL 737s already, but not the MAX version. Admittedly they are shorter runs (eg YHZ-GLA).

  4. And so it begins… Having a lot of friends working as aeronautical engineers, we figured it was bound to happen someday 😉

  5. SAS flies a 737-700 BOS-CPH. Business class seats are OK but marginally. Coach is so bad, my seat mate was telling me she paid for the upgrade on the return.

  6. @smallmj I think the only difference will be if Air Canada is stupid and fails to include IFE (plus plugs and such) in all seats in the new 737s, or if AC decided to make the seat pitch ridiculous. Otherwise, I agree. The seats will be exactly the same whether widebody or not, in which case what does it really matter (unless you’re in business)?

  7. The 737 will likely replace the A319 on the YYT-LHR route. I am not 100% sure but I think the A319s are first to go from the AC mainline fleet once the first few 737s are delivered. I am definitely not looking forward to the 737s. If the economy class is anything like the 787 or 777 economy class on AC, it will be much less comfortable than AC’s current A320 fleet. When flying long-haul in economy on AC I purposely pick a flight operated by an A330 or 767 which are much more comfortable than their 777s or 787s.

  8. The bigger revolution in air travel due to the A350 / 787 extended range on smaller aircraft will be the demise of carriers who relied on spoke and hub route design. These are the carriers that “poached” flyers from countries to fly them to other “third” countries. Carriers such as the Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific who traditionally punched well above their population weight will now see aircraft overfly them altogether. For example, routes out of Australia to Europe will no longer have to stop in Asia.

    Essentially, the “Hub Range” between major cities has become enlarged to it’s own demise due to the technological changes. Partnership hubs will become much more important. Welcome to the world of long range 240 seat aircraft feeding into regional jets.

  9. I like how their PR calls out that the Toronto-Dublin flight (on the A330) will have lie flat in J….while not mentioning that the others will (likely) have a domestic J seat (ie recliner). When it comes to international flights my #1 rule is No Bed, No Fly.

  10. I would personally avoid at all costs. I find going to Europe on 757’s much less comfortable than wide body planes.

  11. How have the 787 and A350 “disrupted” long haul travel. Both these planes were designed in coordination with airline customers. The customers had certain metrics, eg, range, seating capacity, which these planes need to fulfil, hence there is no disruption involved.
    Lucky, Ive cut down visiting your page because of your hideous grammar and random sentence construction. Why do those things matter? Well, if you cant be bothered to get that right, whos to say anything else you do will not be completed with the same level of diligence

  12. UA has been flying 757s transatlantic for a while. 737, 757, it’s all the same for passengers—-3+3, cramped and gloomy. At least the Concorde flights, while equally miserable, were over more quickly.

  13. Hmmm…pass, thanks.

    @Chuck Lesker mentions UA flying 757s across the Atlantic. AA has also been flying 757s translant for a while. Winter service between ORD-MAN and JFK-MAN is on a 757. Not the best long-haul flying experience. I cant imagine flying a 737 like that – unless of course, its configured for all-business-class (like BA 001 and BA 002 JFK-LON)

  14. Air Canada LHR-YYZ was horrible in 787-8 steerage (business looked ok). You get what you pay for, sure, but sheesh, no human check-in staff (business had two people doing nothing as no one was in line) with machines shared by multiple T3 airlines with just one bag drop and a harrassed staffer to ‘help’ (took longer than the average human check-in), lousy food, grumpy FAs.

    A330 back from Montreal to FRA was scruffy, food even worse, FAs no help as late departure made my transfer look tight. In contrast the LH A320 to BHX, which I just made, was immaculate, as were the staff (bringing water to an asthmatic pax (me) out of breath) and just so welcoming, as were the gate staff.

    I’d only fly Air Canada again at gunpoint.

  15. @John Rolfe: Not anymore. BOS-CPH was converted to A330-300 service as of mid-August as the wet leased Private Air 737 was returned.

  16. @747always
    Just to help, as you aren’t happy… he who throws the first stone and all…

    How have the 787 and A350 “disrupted” long haul travel? Both these planes were designed in coordination with airline customers. The customers had certain metrics, e.g. range and seating capacity, which these planes need to fulfil; hence there is no disruption involved.
    Lucky, I’ve cut down visiting your page because of your hideous grammar and random sentence construction. Why do those things matter? Well, if you can’t be bothered to get that right, who’s to say anything else you do will not be completed with the same level of diligence?

    And to the point, it may be driven by what the airlines want, but it is still a disrupter of the hub and spoke model by enabling more direct flights. And it’s not entirely fair to say that Airbus/Boeing just do what is wanted, otherwise the 747-8 would be doing great. The manufacturers have to predict demand years in advance of a new plane, as do the airlines of course, and some bets work better than others in terms of profitability.

  17. I’m sure YYT-LHR will get a 737 to replace the A319. It isn’t like these are replacing wides on routes – they are opening up routes that are otherwise unavailable. It makes sense.

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