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December 19, 2012

Air Canada Rouge: Everything You Need To Know About Canada’s New Hybrid Airline

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Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER. (Rendering by Air Canada rouge)

Air Canada rouge was revealed Tuesday as the name of the maple leaf airline’s new low-cost leisure carrier. As described by the company, Air Canada seems to be crafting rouge as a sort of hybrid product combining features of an ultra-low-cost carrier (i.e. tight seat pitch) with its legacy airline heritage (free hot meals). Here’s a full rundown.

The Name

Air Canada says, according to their focus groups, “the name and colours spoke to the colour Canada is known for: red, a color they link to warmth, fun and excitement.” They also point out that the combination of the old Air Canada brand with the French word for “red,” the name represents Canada’s two official languages.

“With the introduction today of Air Canada rouge, Air Canada enters today’s growing leisure travel market on a truly competitive basis,” said Ben Smith, Air Canada’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, at a news conference in Toronto. “In partnership with Air Canada Vacations, part of our new leisure group, Air Canada rouge will leverage the strengths of Air Canada’s extensive network, operational expertise and frequent flyer reward program in order to offer Canadians great value for their vacation travel.”


The new sub-carrier will target vacation travelers with service set to launch July 1, 2013 to several cities in Europe and the Caribbean.

Two cities not currently served by Air Canada will see rouge flights: Edinburgh and Venice. The remainder will be destinations that shift from Air Canada mainline to rouge.

• Toronto – Athens, Greece 4x/week
• Montreal – Athens, Greece 2x/week
• Toronto – Venice, Italy 3x/week
• Toronto – Edinburgh, Scotland 3x/week
• Toronto – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 3x/week
• Toronto – Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic 1x/week
• Toronto – Samana, Dominican Republic 1x/week
• Toronto – Liberia, Costa Rica 2x/week
• Toronto – San José, Costa Rica 2x/week
• Toronto – Varadero, Cuba 3x/week
• Toronto – Santa Clara, Cuba 1x/week
• Toronto – Cayo Coco, Cuba 1x/week
• Toronto – Holguin, Cuba 1x/week
• Toronto – Kingston, Jamaica 5x/week

Rouge route map. (Map by Air Canada rouge)


The rouge fleet will consist entirely of hand-me-down planes from Air Canada, beginning with a total of four: two Boeing 767-300ERs for the Europe flights and two Airbus A319s for the Caribbean. Capacity in the Air Canada mainline fleet will be replaced through the delivery of two new Boeing 777-300ER jets. Transition of the initial four planes from Air Canada to rouge configuration will take place in May and June.

As Air Canada begins to receive new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2014, the company plans to add as many as 50 767s and A319s to the rouge fleet.


Now pay close attention, because in addition to identifying the airline, “rouge” is also used to designate its cabins and it gets a little confusing.

Standard economy
767: 230 slimline seats, 30-in pitch, 3-in recline and 18-in width between the armrests, 3x3x3 config
A319: 118 slimline seats, 29-in pitch, 3-in recline and 18-in width between the armrests, 3×3 config

rouge Plus
Premium economy, sold as upgrade over standard rouge: $40 for Caribbean flights, $90 for Europe
767: 28 slimline seats, 35-in pitch, 5-in recline and 18-in width between the armrests, 3x3x3 config
A319: 24 slimline seats, 35-in pitch, 5-in recline and 18-in width between the armrests, 3×3 config

Premium rouge
Somewhere between premium economy and business class, sold as separate fare class
767: 24 seats, 37-in pitch, 7-in recline and 18.5-in width between armrests, 2x3x2 config.
A319: Not offered

Passenger Experience

There won’t be personal TV screens, and no internet access, but the planes will offer — for a fee — wireless streaming video content viewable through your laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Europe flights will offer free hot meals to all passengers. Those in Premium rouge get a little extra, specifically “exceptional food and beverage served on fine dishware and glassware” and “hot towels,
snacks, exquisitely-prepared meals and carefully selected wines.” Caribbean flights will offer buy-on-board meals.


Rouge fliers can earn Air Canada Aeroplan miles based on cabin class and the region flying to, not actual miles flown. As far as mileage goes there are only two destinations: Caribbean and Europe. And while the two premium classes earn status-bearing Aeroplan miles, standard rouge class passengers earn only regular, non-status miles.

rouge aeroplan miles


Newly hired, rouge-dedicated flight attendants will work the cabins aboard rouge flights, a point Air Canada mentions more than once in their rouge media kit. (Remaining bad blood with the unionized mainline flight attendants who threatened to strike in 2011?) Meanwhile, regular Air Canada pilots will fly the planes. Air Canada says rouge will create 200 flight attendant and pilot jobs.

Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319. (Rendering by Air Canada rouge)

Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319. (Rendering by Air Canada rouge)

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  • Noah Kimmel

    somehow I don’t thing the a319s are going to be 3x3x3

  • Seating on the 767s is 2x3x2. 9-abreast on a 763 would be almost impossibly tight. Confirmed from ACR’s media kit.

  • sagsamsig

    Sounds to me like they might jsut be onto something there dude.