Air Canada may retire Airbus jets sooner: CEO

Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:31pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Air Canada, which plans deep staff and capacity cuts to cope with sky-high fuel prices, may retire wide-body Airbus jets sooner than expected to chop costs, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Air Canada, the country's biggest airline, had expected to part with its Airbus A330-300 aircraft as it took delivery of new-generation Boeing 787s, the much-anticipated planes that have been fraught with costly delays.

Now, as oil hovers above $130 a barrel, the airline is considering replacement aircraft as a temporary fuel-saving solution while it waits for the 787s, CEO Montie Brewer said.

"We're looking at all kinds of bridging options to maybe get that fleet out faster. But we still need that capacity for some of the international (routes)," Brewer told a transportation conference in New York hosted by Merrill Lynch.

"There are a lot of moving pieces, but we're looking at anything that can help us manage capacity better and get the greatest amount of cost down."

Air Canada's 274-seat A330s entered the fleet in 1999. It has eight of them. The carrier has already said it will park four older Boeing 767-200s while it rejuvenates its fleet.

The airline last month said it may receive its first 787 in 2012 instead of 2010, complicating its fleet planning. It will push for compensation for the delay from Boeing.

On Tuesday, Air Canada blamed unprecedented fuel prices for its decision to chop 7 percent of its overall capacity this autumn and winter, a move that will mean 2,000 job cuts.   Continued...