Czech Airlines Replaces Order For 4 A320neos With A220s

Czech Airlines has jumped onboard the Airbus A220 bandwagon by ordering four of the larger -300 variant. But this came at a cost as they reduced their A320 order from seven to three.

The small European carrier has swapped four A320neos for four A220-300s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Who is Czech Airlines?

Czech Airlines is a relatively small airline based out of Prague, Czech Republic. It only flies to 30 destinations with a fleet of 14 aircraft, but this doesn’t stop it carrying 2.26 million passengers in 2016 alone.

They are owned almost completely outright by Smartwings (97.74%) with the remainder owned by a local insurance company. Their other claim to fame is that Czech Airlines is actually the fifth oldest operating airline in the world, after KLM, Avianca, Qantas, and Aeroflot, and the first airline to fly exclusively jet-aircraft.

As of today, its fleet currently consists of six older A319’s, six ATR-72’s and a single Boeing 737-800. It also has one A330-300 on loan from Korean Air.

As you can see, their fleet is a generation behind and could do with some newer aircraft. According to Flight Global, the airline decided to reduce their A320neo order (designed to replace their A319-100 aircraft) of seven aircraft to only three. At the time it was unknown why they did this, but now fellow aviation site Flieger Faust has revealed that they chose to replace those missing orders with orders of the largest A220 variant, the A220-300.

Czech Airlnes
Czech Airlines A319. Photo: Kiefer via Wikimedia

Why did they change their order?

There are several advantages to reducing their order of A320neo aircraft for A220 aircraft.

The A220-300 is a different breed of aircraft compared to the A320neo. The A220-300 might carry fewer passengers than the A320neo (141 vs 165) but it has other advantages that make it worthwhile.

For a start, the A220-300 is super efficient at carrying a small load of passengers. It will allow Czech Airlines to open up new routes to regional airports that wouldn’t exactly be profitable running a large A320neo aircraft. Additionally, the A220-300 can land at smaller runways than the bigger A320 and might be a bit more flexible across Central Europe.

Airbus A220
The expected delivery could potentially be 2020 onwards. Photo: Airbus

As the two aircraft types are built in completely different factories (not even on the same continent) there is no chance that the production delays that the A320 line is experiencing will impact the A220 order. Thus, it is likely that Czech Airlines will receive its first A220 before it gets its first A320. It may even have its entire four A220-300s flying before the A320s are delivered.

While we are not privy to the details of this deal, it might have been that Airbus wanted to ‘encourage’ the sale of the A220 over the popular A320. By having another airline purchase the aircraft, it looks good to shareholders and the rest of the market. Perhaps for both Airbus and Czech Airlines, it really was a win-win scenario.

What do you think about the A220 order? Let us know in the comments what you think.