Air Malta has waved farewell to its final narrow-body Airbus A319 with the 15-year-old aircraft registration number 9H-AEJ heading for the scrapyard. According to CH-Aviation, the little A319-100 flew its last revenue-making flight to Malta International Airport (MLA) from Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) on the 23rd of October.
Air Malta only had one Airbus A319
Earlier in the year, Air Malta Chairman Charles Mangion talked about the airline’s plans, saying that the company was proceeding with its fleet rollover to the Airbus A320neo family of jets. Having only one A319 left in its fleet of aircraft, the A319 was the obvious choice to be retired first.
Other aircraft in Air Malta’s current fleet include seven A320-200s and three A320-200neos. One of the seven A320s is wet-leased from Air Malta’s subsidiary Malta MedAir.
Sadly for the A319, it cannot keep up with the popularity of the Airbus A320 and the A321 family of jets. As of the end of July, 36 orders for the A319neo remain after Avianca Argentina’s order for 20 was canceled.
The A319 does not have enough seats
Despite offering a greater range than the A320, the second smallest jet in Airbus’s A320 family line-up is out of vogue. At a time where airlines are looking to jam as many seats into a plane as they can, it just doesn’t have an appealing capacity.
In addition to airlines wanting bigger jets, Airbus now has the former Bombardier C-Series as competition for the A319neo. The larger version of the Canadian plane, now called the A220, is level with the A319 with a maximum of 160 seats or between 120 and 150 when configured with two classes.
The newer, more modern A220-300 is certainly beating the older aircraft in the marketplace with 461 aircraft on order with Airbus at the end of July. The Aero Telegraph says this 13 times more than orders for the A319neo.
Airbus is marketing the A319neo to business users
Despite all the interest in the A220, Airbus has decided to keep making the A319 as it is popular with governments and private customers. The aircraft is also well suited for use at high-altitude airports and in hot climates.
For the corporate version of the jet called the ACJ319, Airbus has fitted extra fuel tanks that give it a range of 12,500 kilometers (7,765 miles) when flying with eight passengers. Back in April, to appeal to rich clients, Airbus sent the long rage ACJ319 on a 16 hour 10-minute flight from Toulouse to Greenland and back.
While plenty of A319s are still in service we can expect to see them getting phased out in favor of larger aircraft like Air Malta is doing.