Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220

Think of the A220, and you’ll probably think of Delta, SWISS, or airBaltic. These three operators have 104 of the 152 aircraft with airlines worldwide. While the US is very much the leading country for the A220s, Riga is the number-one airport and Busan to Seoul Gimpo the top route.

Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220
Delta is the largest of all A220 operators. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The world’s first commercial CS100 flight took off from Zurich to Paris CDG with SWISS on July 15th, 2016. It was joined almost exactly five months later by the maiden commercial flight of the larger CS300 on December 14th. airBaltic used the -300 from Riga to Amsterdam, replacing the winglet-equipped B737-300 that operated it the day before.

The CSeries became the A220 in 2018, a year in which seats almost reached the nine million mark. As with other aircraft, the importance of the larger and more cost-efficient variant was already clear. Between 2018 and 2021, the A220-300 has added virtually 10 million seats, against 4.1 million for the -100.

Basic aircraft economics indicates that the larger the aircraft, the higher the trip cost, but the lower the seat-mile cost. This is partly why smaller aircraft, like the A318, do less well, except in very niche roles.

Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220
This year, the A220-300 has 72% of all A220 seats. Note that the CSeries is included here to account for the time before it changed names. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer

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10 airlines use the A220

Just two airlines have the A220-100 against 10 for the -300. Only Delta and SWISS use both variants, with the current airline fleet summarized below based on Planespotters.net data. Note that some aircraft are parked.

  1. Delta: 49 A220s (41x -100s, eight -300s)
  2. SWISS: 29 (20x -300s, nine -100s)
  3. airBaltic: 26 (-300s)
  4. Air Canada: 19 (-300s)
  5. EgyptAir: 12 (-300s)
  6. Korean Air: 10 (-300s)
  7. Air Austral: two (-300s on order; see below)
  8. Air Tanzania: two (-300s)
  9. JetBlue: two (-300s)
  10. Air Manas: one (-300)

While the A220 is on order for Air Austral, which is based in the Indian Ocean location of Reunion, they are due to enter scheduled service from June. In that first month, the type will be operated from Saint-Denis to Antananarivo, Dzaoudzi, and Nosy-Be.

Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220
As airBaltic has 26 A220-300s. Photo: Getty Images

Where is best to see the A220?

Some 226 airports are due to see the A220 this year, analyzing data supplied by airlines to OAG reveals. Having taken delivery of its 26th aircraft earlier this month and primarily revolving around one airport, it’s no surprise that Riga sees the most A220s, as follows.

Indeed, the dominance of airBaltic at Riga is such that 68% of flights at the airport are by the A220. The aircraft has more than five times as many flights as the second-most used aircraft, the B737-800, which mainly flies with Ryanair.

  1. Riga: approximately 23,522 two-way A220 flights
  2. Zurich: 23,258
  3. Cairo: 15,614
  4. Salt Lake City: 15,486
  5. Jeju: 12,203
  6. Toronto: 11,762
  7. Busan 11,516
  8. New York La Guardia: 11,465
  9. Seoul Gimpo: 11,210
  10. Geneva: 9,900
Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220
Delta and SWISS are the only users of both the -100 and -300. Photo: Getty Images.

Where in the world?

Despite only two US airports appearing in the above list, namely Salt Lake City and La Guardia, the US is very much the leading country for the A220. This year, it has an estimated 54,787 flights by the aircraft, helped by JetBlue adding more routes, for an almost one-third share (32%) of the world’s total.

Exponential Growth: Top Routes And Airlines For The A220
South Korea is the world’s second-largest country by total A220 flights, mainly because of very short flights. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia.

However, the dominance of the US isn’t really reflected in the most popular routes for the A220, as shown below. Instead, it shows how important South Korea is for the aircraft, despite Korean Air having ‘only’ 10 aircraft. Multiple very short routes very much drive this. The world’s top A220 route, Busan to Seoul Gimpo, is just 203 miles, while the second, Busan to Jeju, is 183.

Not surprisingly, South Korea is the world’s second-largest nation for A220 movements, although it still has well under half the number as the US.

  1. Busan to Seoul Gimpo: approximately 5,471 two-way A220 flights
  2. Busan-Jeju: 4,449
  3. Jeju-Seoul Gimpo: 4,279
  4. Chicago O’Hare-New York La Guardia: 3,872
  5. Salt Lake City-Orange County: 3,440
  6. Cairo-Sharm El-Sheikh: 3,060
  7. Cairo-Hurghada: 3,044
  8. Dallas Fort Worth-New York La Guardia: 2,970
  9. Aswan-Cairo: 2,849
  10. Ottawa-Toronto: 2,723

Have you flown the A220? If so, what are your thoughts about it? Comment below!