Air France and Airbus are in discussions over a stretched version of the A220 to replace the French carrier’s fleet of A320s. The stretched A220 could happen in around five years’ time and would extend the jet’s capacity to as many as 200 passengers.
Another stretched A220 on the cards?
Air France recently received its first A220-300 and has played up the idea of a further stretched variant to replace its A320 fleet. According to AirlineRatings, Air France and Airbus have been in preliminary discussions concerning a stretched A220, which could be only five years away.
Ben Smith, CEO of Air France/KLM Group, said,
“We have told Airbus for a long time that we would be very interested in a stretched A220 as an A320 replacement, but discussions are preliminary so far.”
While the A220-300 has an exit limit of around 160 passengers, a further stretched variant – dubbed the ‘A220-500‘ – could increase capacity to around 200 passengers in a one-class configuration and 180 in a two-class layout by adding six rows of seats.
According to Airbus, a stretched A220 has been on the table for a while now and looks to be an inevitability. Airbus CCO Christian Scherer has estimated that the plane could be developed in around five years.
“It’s not a question of if, but when a stretched A220 will become the successor of our narrowbody A320 family. These plans have existed since Bombardier started initial designs for the CSeries.”
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Air France’s A320 fleet
Air France believes a stretched A220 would be the perfect replacement for its fleet of A320s. According to AirlineRatings, “the A220 is producing 20% less CO2 emissions and a 34% reduced noise footprint at 10% lower operating costs.”
According to ch-aviation, Air France has a fleet of 44 Airbus A320s with an average age of just over 12 years. While there’s no imminent need to replace its A320s, the superior performance of the A220 is undoubtedly enviable.
On the airline’s close relationship with Airbus, CEO Smith said,
“No other airline than Air France has operated all aircraft types Airbus ever built, currently we have a total of 136 Airbus aircraft in our fleet.”
The A220 to enter service on October 31st
Air France recently received the first of 60 Airbus A220-300s. The jets will gradually replace the carrier’s 18 A318s and 33 A319s, with all 60 A220s expected to arrive by 2025 at a rate of 15 planes per year.
CEO Smith added,
“The A220 has a range of up to four and a half hours, so we will ultimately use it on every one of our medium-haul routes.”
Additionally, the airline may deploy the aircraft on its Moscow and North African routes if necessary. The A220 will enter service with Air France on October 31st, initially operating flights to Berlin, followed by Barcelona, Madrid, Milan-Linate, and Venice.
Do you think a further stretch of the A220 is a good idea? How long do you think it will take before it enters service? Feel free to share your insights in the comments.