Still Strong: The Airbus A319 In The US

By definition, more commonly used aircraft types, such as the A319, are less interesting, but this misses a crucial but obvious point. It is their very commonness that makes them so vital. Operators of the smaller Airbus narrowbody, which has existed for nearly 30 years, have almost 1.2 million flights on sale this year. And despite Frontier withdrawing the type this week, the US continues to play an important role for the aircraft.

American A319
American is the largest user of the A319 in the US. 492 routes see it this year, with Boston to Washington National having the most flights. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Use of the A319 in the US

The A319 has 380,000 flights to, from, and within the US this year – more than 1,000 a day on average. That’s based on analyzing schedules provided by the carriers to OAG. This means the US now has about a one-third share of all flights by the single-aisle.

The USA’s share has risen by seven percentage points since pre-pandemic 2019. While non-USA airlines are at just 49% of A319 flights two years ago, US operators are at 73%. The big gap reflects uneven recoveries, aircraft storage, and retirements for larger and more fuel-efficient alternatives with lower seat-mile costs.

How have the number of A319 flights changed
The A319 in the US ended 2019 with more flights than in 2018, no mean feat. Then COVID happened. Source of data: OAG.

The US has five scheduled A319 operators

As detailed below, just five US airlines now use the A319, with some 346 aircraft between them, ch-aviation.com shows. American is very much the leader, with 133, of which all but eight are believed to be active. This contrasts with United, with fewer than seven in ten operational.

  1. American: 133 A319s; average age 17.5 years; 128 seats
  2. United: 90; average age 19.5 years; 126 seats
  3. Delta: 57; average age 19.6 years; 132 seats
  4. Allegiant: 35; average age 16.1 years; 156 seats
  5. Spirit: 31; average age 15.0 years; 145 seats

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Until September 8th, six US airlines used the aircraft. Frontier retired its smallest aircraft that day following its last revenue flight Nashville back to its Denver hub, and then a ferry flight to Tampa. According to ch-aviation.com, the carrier’s last A319, N949FR, was delivered new in 2006 and has remained with it ever since.

Frontier A319
Frontier operated a total of 52 A319s, with the first delivered in 2001. Photo: Bernal Saborio via Flickr.

Frontier and the A319

The year 2007 marked the height of Frontier’s use of the smaller narrowbody, with over 86,000 flights that year, OAG shows. Movements have declined year-on-year ever since, ending 2019 with barely 11,000.

Like other carriers, it had decided on higher-capacity A320, with the first ceo arriving in 2008 with much superior economics. The decline of the smaller sibling was inevitable. And as the A320ceo now declines for Frontier, the A320neo – with its even better economics – rises.

A Frontier Airlines Airbus A319
2007 was the peak year for Frontier’s A319 flights. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr.

Denver to Punta Cana was the longest route

If the 2004-2021 period is examined, almost 900 routes saw Frontier’s A319s. Denver-Las Vegas saw more services by the aircraft than any other route, as shown below, with the top-10 having almost half a million flights. Although only used on a handful of occasions, the longest route was Denver to Punta Cana, some 2,610 miles. Farewell, N949FR!

  1. Denver-Las Vegas
  2. Denver-Salt Lake City
  3. Denver-Phoenix
  4. Denver-Los Angeles
  5. Denver-Dallas Fort Worth
  6. Denver-San Diego
  7. Denver-San Francisco
  8. Denver-Kansas City
  9. Denver-Seattle
  10. Denver-Portland

What are your experiences of the A319? Let us know in the comments.

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