At the end of February 2019, Airbus announced that it had a new A220 customer in the form of Pacific Island carrier Air Vanuatu. At the time, the airline had signed on for two A220-100s and two A220-300s. The deal was significant in that it was the airline’s first-ever order with Airbus and also made Air Vanuatu the launch customer for the A220 in the Pacific region. Let’s take a closer look at this order and what we can expect.
From four to three
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, Air Vanuatu initially ordered four Airbus A220 jets – two of each variant. However, when examining the latest Airbus Order and Delivery data, we can see that this deal has since been adjusted. Indeed, instead of two ordering two A220-300s, the airline will now only take just one example of the longer variant. This was first reported by CAPA in early September of 2021.
A result of the global health crisis, the cancelation of one jet was not the only adjustment Air Vanuatu made to its deal with Airbus. In June of 2020, we reported that the airline was delaying the delivery of its A220s that were due to start arriving by the end of that year. The airline had been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions and the closure of international borders.
Interestingly, the delay and subsequent cancelation of one jet has become an opportunity for another airline. According to AIB Family Flights, the one A220-300 bound for Air Vanuatu, which was canceled (MSN 55089), was taken up by Air Senegal. This aircraft underwent its third test flight on November 22nd, 2021. As a result, none of the three A220s on order for the airline have been assembled yet (as far as we know).
“We are proud to be the launch airline in the South Pacific of the best-in-class Airbus A220. These aircraft will be deployed to operate on our current domestic and international routes, including our newly announced non-stop Melbourne-Vanuatu service, and will bolster plans to expand our network in the South Pacific.” -Derek Nice, Chief Executive Officer, Air Vanuatu (2019)
While we don’t have a revised timeline on Air Vanuatu’s A220 deliveries, we have some clues as to how the airline’s new jets will be configured. According to ch-aviation.com, the 108-seat A220-100 will be configured as follows:
- Eight seats
- 2-2 layout
- 38-inch seat pitch
- 100 seats
- 2-3 layout
- 32-inch seat pitch
Meanwhile, the airline’s lone A220-300 will have a similar configuration and spacing as the A220-100s but have an additional 25 seats (five rows) in economy class.
Based at Bauerfield International Airport in the capital Port Vila, Air Vanuatu connects its home country to others in the region, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and New Caledonia. Currently, the airline operates a single Boeing 737-800 and two ATR72s. However, one of the two ATR72 turboprops is listed as inactive at the moment.
Have you ever flown with this airline before? Do you think the A220 is the right choice for the carrier? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment.