Air Canada has warned Australia not to expect its new premium economy seats any time soon, as Brisbane emerged as the surprise next possible local port for the carrier.
The airline revealed earlier this month that premium economy will be introduced in July, initially between Montreal and Paris, with the product appearing on five new 777 aircraft set for delivery over the next 12 months.
But with the existing 777-200LR operating to Sydney still relatively new, any retrofit with the new class was some way off.
Claude Morin, pictured, vice president global sales management, said that only when the 787 Dreamliner's begin arriving with premium economy next year will the carrier be "forced" to look at retrofitting.
"Premium economy will appear on international routes in a significant way when the 787s show up," Morin told Travel Today on a visit to Sydney. "After we receive maybe 10 or 15 787s, and our passengers become accustomed to premium economy, we will be forced to retrofit so we have standard product across our fleet.
"I can't give you a timeframe when Australia will get premium economy but it won' be in the short term because those 777 long range aircraft are so new."
Meanwhile, Air Canada has publicly backed Boeing and its stricken 787 Dreamliner despite admitting that a protracted investigation into the recent technical dramas could see a further delay to its delivery schedule.
The airline is due to receive its first 787s in the first quarter of 2014 - four years late.
Morin said the carrier had not been told of any further delays but acknowledged it could not be ruled out.
"If the 787 is grounded for several more weeks then it begs the question, what next? But as of this moment we have not been advised of any further delays," he said. "Eventually we believe it will be a really good airplane. It's great for customer appeal and great from an economic point of view because it's so fuel efficient, but at the end of the day you have to fly safely and it's that third component that is being questioned.
"But whether it takes a month, three months or three years, it will be fixed and when it is fixed and operates reliably it's going to be an amazing aircraft.
"There is too much money on the line for a solution not to be found."
As it stands, Air Canada will receive around a dozen 787s within 12-24 months of the first delivery early next year. That will pave the way for route expansion which could involve another Australian city, he said.
While Melbourne has been described as the "natural" second local port, Morin flagged Brisbane as a possible superior option given the resources links between Queensland and Canada.
"Brisbane could be a really nice option for us," he said. "Mid to long term a second Australian destination is an absolute possibility."
More from Claude Morin in tomorrow's Travel Today.