Air Austral Beats Air France As First French Airbus A220 Operator

Air Austral has beaten Air France to become the first French Airbus A220 operator. The news comes following the delivery of the airline’s first jet of the type, and a day after Air France revealed that its first Airbus A220 had left the paint shop.

Air Austral, Airbus A220, Delivery
Air Austral has taken delivery of its first Airbus A220. Photo: Airbus

The Airbus A220 appears to be the little plane that could as we start to climb out of the pandemic capacity pit. The aircraft is already smashing pre-COVID flight numbers thanks to its modest capacity tied with the efficiency of a new design. With more airlines taking delivery of the type, this is only set to increase.

Air Austral’s first A220

Air Austral today took delivery of the first of three Airbus A220-300s on order from the European planemaker. Airbus built the aircraft in Mirabel, Canada, from where it was delivered to the La Réuinion Island-based airline.

The first plane to be delivered to the carrier is registered on the French aircraft registry as F-OLAV. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the aircraft was ordered by the airline on October 14th, 2019, and took its first flight on January 28th this year. Its serial number is 55106. The aircraft will feature 120 economy class seats in a 2-3 configuration, with 12 more seats in a four-abreast configuration at the cabin’s front.

Air Austral, Airbus A220, Delivery
The airline is set to take its two remaining A220-300 in the coming days. Photo: Airbus

It seems that the Airbus A220 delivered today won’t be the youngest aircraft in the Air Austral fleet for long. According to Airbus, the airline will take the second and third Airbus A220s on order in the coming days. One of the aircraft bears serial number 55116 and took its first flight on April 9th. With serial number 55125, the other took its first flight a month ago, on June 27th.

Who is Air Austral?

Air Austral is a scheduled carrier based at St. Denis de la Réunion Roland Garros Airport (RUN), on the island of Réunion in Africa. The airline was known as the Réunion Air Service from 1975 to 1986. It was then known as Air Réunion until 1990 when it rebranded as the Air Austral that we know today. According to ch-aviation.com‘s data, the airline serves 17 destinations across 20 routes to 11 countries.

Air Austral, Airbus A220, Delivery
The Boeing 787-8 makes up 25% of the airline’s existing fleet. Photo: Boeing

Apart from the Airbus A220 delivered today, Air Austral has eight other aircraft. One ATR 72-500 joins two Boeing 737-800s, three Boeing 777-300ERs, and a couple of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners. The airline owns one of the 787s, with the remaining aircraft on lease. At one point, the airline had intended to order from the other end of Airbus’ product spectrum, the mighty A380.

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According to data from Cirium, the airline has 630 flights scheduled for July 2021, with 123,756 seats on offer. Its top destination is Mauritius, with 106 rotations planned. Only 267 flights are planned to end in Réuinion.

Air Austral, Airbus A220, Delivery
Air Austral’s scheduled route network for July 2021. Photo: Cirium

First French A220 operator

The island of Réunion is a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean. Despite being so far from Europe, the island is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. As part of France, the region’s aircraft are placed on the main French aircraft registry. As such, Air Austral becomes the first French operator of the Airbus A220.

The airline beat Air France, who showed off its livery on its first Airbus A220 yesterday. However, the Airbus A220 is unlikely to feature on Air Austral’s connection to the capital city of France, Paris. Air France can claim that it is the first mainland France operator of the little jet.

Are you excited to see a French operator begin flying the Airbus A220? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

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