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Air Canada AC-T said on Tuesday it would add 26 extra-long-range versions of the Airbus A321neo aircraft to its fleet as travel demand has jumped after a blip caused by the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Canadian carriers are seeing a bounce in spring travel as COVID-19 shows signs of ebbing, but surging oil prices because of the Russia-Ukraine crisis are casting a shadow ahead of the busy summer vacation season.

Canada’s largest carrier said the extra-long-range version of A321neo that will replace the company’s older aircraft is expected to be more fuel efficient. The new version will have a range of about 8,700 kilometres and can fly up to 11 hours.

The Canadian carrier said it would lease 15 aircraft from Air Lease Corp and five from Dublin-based AerCap Holdings.

Six aircraft would be acquired from Airbus S.A.S. under an agreement that includes purchase rights to buy an additional 14 planes between 2027 and 2030.

The deliveries would begin in the first quarter of 2024 with the final aircraft to arrive in the first quarter of 2027, Air Canada said. The carrier is in the process of selecting an engine manufacturer for the extra-large version of A321neo.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, Air Canada had a combined 214 aircraft in its mainline and Air Canada Rouge fleets, including 136 single-aisle, narrow-body aircraft. Last year, Air Canada, which was struggling with a collapse in traffic because of the pandemic, was able to proceed with its planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners after it signed a $5.9-billion government aid deal.

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