Why Haven’t Many Asian Airlines Ordered The Airbus A220?

The Airbus A220 has proven to be a capable aircraft since its introduction, providing the right capacity and range for the time. Despite its popularity in North America and Europe, only a few Asian carriers have ordered this new jet. Let’s find out why Asian airlines haven’t jumped at the A220.

Korean Air A220
Korean Air is one of the few Asian carriers currently operating the Airbus A220. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

Few orders

Currently, only two airlines in Asia have placed orders for the Airbus A220, and only one is actually flying it. Iraqi Airways has booked 10 A220-300s, while Korean Air has already completed its order for 10 A220-300s. Iraqi was set to receive its first jet last year but the timeline passed with no indication of future delivery dates.

EgyptAir A220
The A220 has more operators in Africa than in Asia, which is a remarkable feat considering the size difference between the markets. Photo: Airbus

With only one A220 operator in all of Asia, the aircraft has not the success it saw in North America or Europe, where airlines have placed orders for dozens of planes. Asia is the fastest-growing aviation region globally, with passenger numbers rising dramatically in the last few years. However, there are a few possible reasons for the A220s lower popularity

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Matter of time

Considering the rise in traffic across Asia, many airlines have opted to purchase larger jets like the A320/737 family or even widebodies. For lower-demand domestic or regional routes, smaller aircraft like regional jets or turboprops provide the optimal capacity. Some airlines might have struggled to find many routes with demand for 100-140 seats.

The second, and very likely reason, could be that an A220 order is just a matter of time. Several Asian airlines have large existing aircraft orders with Airbus or Boeing and would likely complete those before jumping to a new aircraft type. This means airlines will evaluate the A220 in the coming years and weigh if it works for their markets.

A220-300 Airbus Demonstration Tour in Asia - Yangon
Airbus sent its A220 for a demonstration tour in the Asia-Pacific region in 2019, stopping in India, Australia, Vietnam, and several more destinations. Photo: Airbus

There is already evidence of airlines doing this. Malaysia Airlines was considering the A220 and E195-E2 before the pandemic to possibly replace its order for the larger 737 MAX, according to Forbes. More airlines could be making similar moves in the future, especially considering how the market has changed in the last year.

Future looking bright

While 2020 spelled the death knell for many four-engine aircraft, the A220 came out bolstered. The aircraft was the world’s most active fleet during much of the year, buoyed by its efficiency and size. Considering the seismic shift that has taken place, many Asian airlines may start considering the A220 to be a viable replacement for larger jets.

Airbus A220-300
The changes in the market could favor the A220 in Asia in the future. Photo: Airbus

While billion-dollar A220 orders are likely not top-priority right now, airlines will be giving the A220 a closer look. Keep an eye out for new A220 orders from Asia in the coming years, with great potential for the jet.

What do you think about the A220’s future in Asia? What routes would the plane be optimal on? Let us know in the comments!