Airbus has today announced Czech Airlines’ updated order book. The carrier has switched its seven aircraft A320neo order for both the Airbus A220 and the A321XLR. The airline will take the same number of aircraft as originally ordered, but for different models.
Who is Czech Airlines?
As we reported on the Airbus A220 story earlier this month, Czech Airlines is a small flag carrier consisting of 14 aircraft based around the city of Prague.
It is almost entirely owned by fellow Czech airline Smartwings (97.74%) a much bigger European carrier that uses the airline to supplement its vast network. It is not entirely clear how these two airlines integrate, but it seems that the airline in question operates smaller regional routes domestically and nearby, whist Smarwings flies across Europe with their 38 strong Boeing 737 fleet (they also have 32 on order).
What are the details of the order?
In terms of Airbus aircraft, Czech Airlines currently operates seven aircraft. This consists of six Airbus A319ceo aircraft and one Airbus A330-300 (on loan from Korean Air). According to Planespotters, the airline also operates five ATR aircraft, and one Boeing 737.
As such, the order could transform the Czech Airlines fleet. While the A220s could be used to replace or complement the airline’s shorter routes, the Airbus A321XLRs will allow the airline to tap into longer-haul routes, perhaps with less demand.
“The A220 and A321XLR fit well with our long-term business strategy in terms of network expansion. These aircraft will definitely give Czech Airlines a competitive advantage and will increase the capacity of our regular flights. I believe that this step will be appreciated by our passengers, as the aircraft offer best in class comfort even during long haul flights thanks to a brand new cabin configuration,” said Petr Kudela, Chairman of the Board of Czech Airlines in the Airbus Press Release.
The A321XLR is the world’s longest-range single-aisle aircraft, and perfect for long haul low-density routes (such as Boston to Manchester for example). This will allow the airline to operate point to point routes that typically don’t see much traffic but still require multiple layovers.
The A220-300 will be fitted with 149 seats, while the A321XLR will cater for top comfort in a two-class layout with 195 seats. This might actually be the first time the carrier has had a premium cabin onboard. It might even have lie-flat seats!
What does this mean for the airline?
This totally changes the dynamic of the carrier from a typical European airline operating 737s or A320s, to a complex and flexible international airline that regional prowess and inter-continental range. There is no telling where the airline could go from here and they have instantly become one to watch.
However, skeptics will notice that this fleet order now means that they do not have a replacement aircraft for their A319 fleet. Does this mean that they will keep these older aircraft on the books, or replace them out with these new aircraft (which would significantly change the capacity on their routes)? We believe it is the former as in the press release they say the new aircraft will ‘complement’ their existing A319 fleet.
This question gets deeper still when you consider how they will now integrate with Smartwings, who operates across Europe with their fleet. Are these new aircraft putting them in direct competition, or does the leadership team at Smartwings have new plans for the carrier?
Simple Flying reached out to the airline with the above questions.
What do you think about this change in order? Let us know in the comments.