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Eyeing U.S. and domestic markets, Air Canada unveils first Airbus A220 jet

The narrow-body aircraft, whose maiden voyage takes off for Calgary from Montreal on Thursday, grants Canada’s largest airline greater range and cost savings as the company tries to shore up profit margins amid the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

Craig Landry, Air Canada’s head of operations, says the 137-seat A220 offers 20 per cent more fuel efficiency than some Boeing 737 and Airbus jets, and will begin to replace equivalent-size planes like the Embraer E190.

Air Canada’s next two A220 deliveries are slated to run routes starting in May between Montreal and Seattle and between Toronto and San Jose, Calif., as it looks to build its presence in the U.S. and Canada while pushing back against rival WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s inroads in international markets.

New CEO Mirko Bibic takes control as BCE and its competitors feel the political heat

One day into the job as president and CEO of BCE Inc., it’s already clear what Mirko Bibic’s most important task is.

Canadian wireless prices are seen as high – a 2018 federal study from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada found that the country has some of the highest prices in the world, with residents paying an average of $75.44 for unlimited talk-and-text with two gigabytes of data, compared to the $61.26 paid by Americans.

In his mandate letter to Industry Minister Navdeep Bains last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed the minister to use “all available instruments” to reduce the average cost of cellphone bills by 25 per cent.

“If you think of things like 5G, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, smart cities, smart homes – all of that is really going to propel the modern Canadian economy, and at the heart of all that are communications networks.” As a former regulatory lawyer, Mr. Bibic is an unusual choice for chief executive.

(BCE’s 2019 proxy circular indicates that Mr. Bibic received $4.2-million in total compensation in 2018.) Paul Collins, who attended law school at the University of Toronto with Mr. Bibic, recalls how, during a recent dinner at a steak house, Mr. Bibic opened the menu and remarked, “God, this is expensive.” “I said to him, ‘Yeah I think we can afford it,' ' said Mr. Collins, a partner at Stikeman Elliott.

Complicating matters further for BCE is Ottawa’s cybersecurity review of Huawei, which is expected to determine whether the Chinese telecom giant can continue selling 5G equipment to Canadian carriers after the U.S. and Australia expressed concerns that the company could be compelled to assist Beijing in spying on Western networks.

Mr. Cope had previously expressed optimism that Canadian carriers will be permitted to use Huawei equipment for their 5G networks, so long as the gear is restricted to the radio-access portion of their networks, which lies outside the “core” of the network where sensitive information is stored.