Air Canada Launches Rouge, a New Budget Airline

Air Canada Launches Rouge, a New Budget Airline

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A look at North America’s newest air carrier

Air Canada has announced the launch of Rouge, a budget air carrier that will fly from Canada to Europe and the Caribbean beginning July 1.

There’s no word yet on if the food served onboard will be the same or similar to that served on Air Canada. Air Canada serves a limited pay-on-board menu that includes Quiznos pizza, sandwiches like a vegetarian Panini with red pepper hummus, and Greek yogurt with blueberry and pomegranate, and snacks like apples with caramel dip, Nissin Cup Noodles, Pringles potato chips, and Twizzlers candy.

Rouge passengers will be treated to complimentary nonalcoholic beverages and have the option to purchase buy-on-board snacks, hot and cold meals, and alcoholic beverages on Caribbean flights. Details on the buy-on-board menu have not been released.

Those traveling to Europe are treated to different food option. Those seated in Rouge and Rouge Plus seating are served complimentary hot meals and nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages and premium Rouge Premium passengers are served a lineup of yet-to-be revealed hot meals on fine China paired with wines along with snacks and nonalcoholic drinks.

Other amenities include duty-free shopping, a free in-flight magazine, and a wireless in-flight entertainment system that passengers can access for a fee on their own devices like laptops and smartphones.

Rouge will fly two new service routes to Edinburgh and Venice that are not covered by Air Canada. Rouge will also fly from Montreal and Toronto to Liberia and San José in Costa Rica; Cayo Coco, Holguin, Santa Clara, and Varadero in Cuba; Punta Cana and Samana in the Dominican Republic; Athens, and Kingston, Jamaica.

Lauren Mack is the Special Projects Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.

Air Canada Rouge Will Operate Transatlantic A321 Services Once 767 Retires

As the Air Canada Group makes its first moves to recover from a disastrous 2020, its CEO and President, Calin Rovinescu, talked about his plans for the airline group this week. He covered a broad range of topics. Key amongst them was the retirement of the Boeing 767-300 and what that means for low-cost carrier Air Canada Rouge.

Price war

WestJet has already responded by lowering its ticket prices to undercut NewLeaf on many competing routes.

"We will vigorously defend our low fare leadership position in the market. Our success over the past 20 years demonstrates that Canadians love our unique combination of low fares and remarkable guest experience," WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email.

Air Canada hasn't said yet whether it will follow suit, but spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News: "We welcome competition and offer competitive pricing in every market we serve."

The new low-cost carriers in Canada are copying the business models of successful budget airlines south of the border by offering cheap introductory fares and charging extra for things like printing a ticket, bringing aboard a carry-on or checking luggage.

"By unbundling the entire service, you get to choose what you want," NewLeaf CEO Jim Young said when he announced the airline's routes. "Ultra low-cost carriers are some of the most financially successful airlines in the world today."

Departing from Quito International Airport earlier, Air Canada Rouge has launched a thrice weekly non-stop flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport.

The arrival of the Canadian airline in the capital of Ecuador is the result of joint efforts of Corporación Quiport, the Ecuadorian government and the municipality of Quito, which have resolutely committed themselves to increasing connectivity in the country.

“We are delighted with this new route that will connect another South American capital with our hub in Toronto.

“We have worked hard and are very proud to be the first Canadian airline to cover the Quito-Toronto route, thus bringing both countries closer together, strengthening trade and tourism, and increasing opportunities for hundreds of students,” said Alfredo Babún, Air Canada regional manager for Andean Countries.

The duration of the new non-stop flight is six hours and 35 minutes, directly connecting travellers from both countries.

It will be operated with a Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

Ecuadorian tourism minister, Rosi Prado de Holguín, welcomed Air Canada Rouge, and said: “The airline arrives in Ecuador to shorten the distance between these two countries and facilitate the arrival of Canadian tourists who are eager to enjoy the warmth and beauty of our ‘four worlds’.”

Air Canada finalizes decision to convert aircraft to freighters

Air Canada's decision to launch a freighter division is the latest in a series of innovations for the airline. (Photo: Air Canada)

Air Canada (TSX: AC) confirmed Friday that it plans to convert several Boeing 767-300 Extended Range aircraft to pure freighters to take advantage of expected airfreight growth and announced the appointment of Alaska Airlines veteran Jason Berry to lead the cargo division.

Air Canada is the first carrier since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic to opt for a hybrid fleet, furthering its reputation for innovation. The exact number of aircraft and the timeframe for conversions remains to be determined, spokeswoman Johanne Cadorette said.

The move into all-cargo aircraft was made possible by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA), which agreed to amend the existing labor contract to allow the airline to operate dedicated cargo aircraft, according to Air Canada. Cargo pilots typically earn less than their passenger counterparts. The new deal enables Montreal-based Air Canada to have lower pay scales for cargo pilots so it can compete with freighter operators.

Airlines flipped more than 2,500 aircraft into temporary cargo service after the coronavirus pandemic devastated passenger traffic and idled much of their fleets, but those airplanes are expected to be pulled back to their original role once people start traveling again in greater numbers.

Repurposing passenger aircraft this year has proven extremely lucrative for passenger airlines, with overall industry yields up more than 40% because the overall shortage of cargo capacity coincides with high demand for COVID-related medical supplies, foodstuff and other goods. To date, Air Canada has operated more than 3,500 cargo-only flights globally, including with four Boeing 777-300ER and three Airbus A330 planes with seats removed to transport cargo in the cabin.

The decision to become a combination carrier like Lufthansa and Emirates is noteworthy because operating freighters is more complex than simply carrying cargo in the belly of passenger aircraft.

Most passenger airlines are skittish about getting into pure cargo operations because the market tends to be volatile, with periods of strength followed by stretches of weak volume that make it difficult to get a return on investment for specialized aircraft and equipment. Delta Air Lines, for example, got rid of the Boeing 747 freighters it received from its 2008 acquisition of Northwest Airlines.

Air Canada tipped its hand about launching a freighter fleet in its third-quarter earnings call with analysts earlier this month. Officials said they believe the huge growth trend in e-commerce will drive airfreight growth in the years after the pandemic. Boeing recently forecast that projected e-commerce will be a major driver of 4% annual growth in air cargo volumes for the next 20 years.

“Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo have pivoted quickly to new and unique commercial opportunities in response to evolving market conditions over the past 11 months, and Air Canada was the first airline globally to transform aircraft and double freight capacity by removing seats to enable cargo transport in the passenger cabin,” said Chief Commercial Officer Lucie Guillemette in a statement. “We now operate up to 100 international, all-cargo flights weekly, and with ACPA’s recent ratification on cargo operating arrangements, we are planning the conversion of several owned Boeing 767-300ERs recently retired from passenger service to all-freighter aircraft, which will position Air Canada to continue growing its cargo business across the global supply chain.”

Air Canada possesses 30 of the midsize Boeing aircraft, 25 of them from its budget subsidiary Air Canada Rouge. The 767s are well-suited to cover trans-Atlantic routes, as well as North America and parts of South America.

Converting passenger planes to a cargo configuration requires extensive engineering modifications, such as reinforcing the floor beams to support heavy cargo, installing a main deck cargo door and installing a rigid metal barrier behind the cockpit to protect against sliding loads.

Meanwhile, Air Canada said Berry will become vice president of cargo, effective Jan. 1. The position has been empty since Tim Strauss left in August to lead Miami-based all-cargo carrier Amerijet. Managing Director Vito Cerone has led Air Canada Cargo on an interim basis for the past three months.

Berry is currently president of Alaska Airlines’ subsidiary McGee Air Services, which provides ground handling, aircraft grooming, airport mobility and check-in and gate services. He led Alaska’s cargo business from 2012 until June 2019.

He will take over one of the most innovative passenger airlines in the world, especially when it comes to cargo operations. In addition to adding all-cargo operations and being the first to strip seats from passenger planes, Air Canada is expanding into drone delivery and is using artificial intelligence to support decision-making.

“Jason’s entrepreneurial approach combined with his solid air cargo background is well-suited to operationalize these commercial opportunities and lead the strategic direction of our cargo business to optimize the growth of e-commerce while leveraging Air Canada’s fleet and global reach,” Guillemette said.

Business Class: Air Canada Longhaul inflight meals

Entree: Cold beef strips

Decent and tasty.

Mushroom ravioli

Banana bread and ice cream


Chicken slivers and tomato salad

Prawn on cucumber

Liver pate

Cheese plate

Hot beef strips

Cheese plat

Breakfast with waffles

Entree: salmon

Salad of organic field greens, grape tomatoes and parmesan served with balsamic vinagrette.

Not bad presentation, not bad flavour at all. This just looks right on the plate, with a small circle of salmon resting on a bed of cucumber. The mustard is a bit bland - but that could just be thanks to the altitude of the plane.

The baguette is a classic French affair with a very, very tough crust.

Beef steak

Presented with truffle and porcini mushroom sauce, celeriac yukon gold dauphinoise potatoes, green beens and cherry tomato confit.

Salad of organic field greens, grape tomatoes and parmesan served with balsamic vinagrette. Hot bagette.

This is your basic steak with veggies, but done very well. Alberta beef is that classic Calgary dish, and it's lovely and tender. The best bit though was the potatoes. Looking as square as the dish it came from, it really doesn't resemble much at all. However, it has a lovely light and delicate creamy texture: really very good.

Decent=ish salad too: much better than most of the usual airline salads, with a decent bit of parmesan cheese.

Fromages selection

Hmmm. Something really wasn't right here: the cheese had seen much better days, as had the crew by this point.

Pecan Pie

It seems odd this specialty of Southern U.S. cuisine turning up in the far north for a Trans-Atlantic flight. Many of the Canadians on board were more than happy with this, but for the British contingent it was a bit odd.

Pecan pie is normally served with whipped cream - not so on this occasion.

Light Breakfast

Croissants and cherry jam with butter. Coffee.

A bottle of water, a roll (cold) and a tub of Lerpak butter.

This looks cheap - and so it is. However, there is reason behind Air Canada's budget cut. A hot breakfast isn't really a tradition in the north, plus on the short flights over the Atlantic this is served only three hours after dinner, so most people don't have room.

Thankfully its possible to get a hot bacon roll in the Air Canada arrivals lounge.

Related Organisations

  • Air Canada
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Aeropuerto Internacional de Punta Cana
  • Puerto Plata
  • Americas
  • Holguin
  • Liberia
  • Arroyo Barril Airport (Samana)
  • Santa Clara
  • Craiova Airport
  • Norman Manley International Airport.
  • Aeroports De Montreal
  • Aeropuerto Internacional Jardines del.
  • Juan Santamaria Int Airport, San.

Rouge - Boeing 767-300ER (763)

Air Canada Rouge provides wireless streaming of music to passenger's electronic devices (PEDs) such as laptops, tablets or smartphones with iPads also available to rent.

Air Canada Rouge provides wireless streaming of movies, TV shows, and music to passenger's electronic devices (PEDs) such as laptops, tablets or smartphones. This service is available available for a fee of $5-10.

All Premium Rouge seats have access to an individual power port. Rouge and Rouge Plus seats share power ports between seats.

Air Canada Rouge is currently (September 2019) installing Wi-Fi on their Boeing 767-300ERs. Please check the Air Canada website to see if you flight offers access to Wi-Fi.

Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi access is available on select flights within Canada, the continental U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico and select long-haul international flights. Various time and cost plans are available. Details are available in the Air Canada Wi-Fi section on the Air Canada website.

On flights to the Caribbean, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages will be offered to all passengers as well as delicious Buy On Board menu featuring hot and cold meals and snacks as well as alcoholic beverages. On flights to Europe, rouge and rouge Plus customers will enjoy a complimentary hot meal with a full selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Premium rouge customers will be delighted with exeptional food and beverage served on find dishware and glassware. Hot towels, snacks, exquisitely-prepared meals, and carefully selected wines provide for an unforgettable experience for Premium rouge customers.

Air Canada rouge is the new leisure airline from Air Canada. This aircraft is used on routes to Edinburgh, Venice, Athens, and other destinations in Europe. This 767 aircraft features next generation wireless streaming of entertainment content to passenger laptops, tablets, or smartphones with iPads available to rent.

Air Canada Rouge to retire Boeing 767s, focus on narrow-body jets post-coronavirus

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Air Canada budget subsidiary Rouge will retire many of its Boeing 767 jets as it moves towards exiting long-haul international flying due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to park many of Rouge&rsquos 25 767-300ERs come amid a wider plan to retire 79 jets from the fleet of Air Canada and its subsidiaries, the Montreal-based carrier unveiled on Monday. Gone already are its Embraer 190s &mdash previously due for replacement with new Airbus A220s by year-end &mdash and going are another 65 Airbus A319s and 767s in the months to come.

Air Canada flew 16 A319s, five 767s and 14 E190s, and Rouge flew 22 A319s and 25 767s at the end of March.

&ldquoRouge is going to continue to be an integral part of Air Canada, albeit as primarily a narrow-body operator into leisure markets,&rdquo said Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu during a first quarter earnings call Monday.

While some Rouge 767s may stick around, it does not appear they will be flying long-haul routes.

Air Canada chief financial officer Michael Rousseau said during the call that &ldquokey international destinations&rdquo served by Rouge in Europe would be covered with Air Canada-operated Airbus A330s or high-density Boeing 777s in the future. He did not mention any of the budget airline&rsquos services to South America.

The latest Rouge map shows service to 17 cities in Europe, including Athens (ATH), Berlin (TXL) and Lisbon (LIS), and four cities in South America as far away as Lima (LIM).

The Air Canada Rouge route map prior to the coronavirus pandemic. (Image courtesy of Rouge)

Air Canada does not plan to replace the 767s. The retirements are part of an effort to shrink the carrier in the face of what Rovinescu said will be an at least three-year recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

&ldquoWe&rsquore effectively putting the airline in a state of hibernation, unwinding a decade of international growth,&rdquo he said. &ldquoRealistically, we expect it to take [at least] three years for Air Canada to get back to 2019 levels of revenue and service.&rdquo

Some of the A319s slated for retirement will be replaced by new Boeing 737 MAX jets when the type gets re-certified for service. The E190s are being replace by new A220s, the only new plane that Air Canada appears to continue to take delivery of.

Air Canada is due to take 14 more A220-300s by year-end, its latest fleet plan shows. The aircraft are paid for with a new loan agreement that was reached in April.

Air Canada open to ultra-low-cost air fares to compete in changing market

Air Canada is open to launching an ultra-low-cost airfare plan, to keep up with the changing market.

But they won’t make concrete plans until other ultra-low-cost airlines get started and are successful.

“At this point, we are readying ourselves to compete,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said in an email, “but we have not provided additional information on routes or fares as we first need to see what these new entrants will bring to market.”

2:08 Air Canada launches internal investigation into treatment of Saskatoon toddler

Air Canada officials made the announcement at its annual Investor Day presentation on Wednesday.

The move comes as more and more airline companies have already delved into the cheapening airfare market.

Earlier this month, Flair Airlines (who bought NewLeaf travel) announced it was expanding its cheap fares to Pearson International, Vancouver International and Kelowna International airports.

And Canada Jetlines has announced that it’s working to operate an ultra-low-cost model out of Hamilton’s John C. Munro International Airport and Waterloo International Airport, starting next summer.

Canada’s second-biggest air travel company, WestJet, also plans to create an ultra-low-cost fare early 2018. Those plans were announced in April.

Along with the option of launching the new fare, Air Canada is also expanding their low-budget Rouge line to more destinations.

Is Canada finally ready for low-cost airlines?

There have been a few attempts, and a few failures, when it comes to low-budget airlines in Canada.

But it might be time for a success.

That’s because Canadians are more used to the model now, says Karl Moore, associate professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.

He says there were many Canadians on a recent discount flight he took to Iceland.

“We’re getting more used to [ancillary fees], we’re not as upset by it,” Moore told Global News.

He also said the fact that the big name airlines are getting into the business could be a good thing.

“West jet has the brand name recognition, Canadians’ confidence, and it’s a big airline with something like 12,000 people. And that gives them a big leg up,” he said.

“So, Canadians might trust them.”

There are still some issues about the geography that could cause a problem in Europe, there are multiple airports for the same city, which allows the budget airlines to fly out of a cheaper airport – that’s not the case in Canada.

“Some of the elements of the ultra-low-cost model will be hard to replicate in Canada, but I still think that a lot of the cost savings that they’re getting they can get it here as well,” he said.