JetBlue’s first A220 will be delivered in December, according to the boss at the airline, CEO Robin Hayes. As well as inducting this new plane type to its fleet, JetBlue is investing in an overhaul of its A320 cabins, so that within two years, every plane in the airline’s stable will “either look new or be new.”
A220 arriving in December
While some airlines are looking to delay deliveries or even cancel aircraft orders, JetBlue remains committed to the A220. In an interview with Washington Post last week, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes remained upbeat about the future, despite having a huge proportion of its fleet on the ground right now.
During the interview, Hayes was asked whether JetBlue would use this downtime to make improvements to its aircraft, and in particular to move to a more fuel-efficient fleet. Hayes responded saying,
“The good news is we were already doing that. In fact, December this year sees the first arrival of one of our Airbus A220 planes.”
That’s the first time, to our knowledge, that JetBlue has put a timeframe of the first A220 delivery. Previously the airline had noted that they would begin arriving in the second half of 2020, coming out of the new Alabama production facility for the type. Rival carrier Delta Air Lines received the first Airbus A220 built in the US.
The arrival of the A220s will begin driving down the average fleet age at JetBlue. The carrier currently has a fleet age of just over 10 years, which is dragged down by its regional Embraer E190 aircraft, some of which are almost 16 years old. Hayes said,“These are modern airplanes, very fuel efficient and we’re going to be taking 70 of those over the next few years. Those will [allow us to] gradually phase out our E190 airplanes.”
The other older aircraft are the airline’s A320-200s, some of which are around 20 years of age. The oldest of these will begin to leave as the airline’s A321s arrive. Nine of the 59 A321neos on order have already arrived, and the airline is expecting the A321LR to begin delivering in 2021. Following that, the gamechanging A321XLR will begin arriving in 2023.
Upgrade for the A320s too
While a shiny new airplane is always a welcome arrival, JetBlue isn’t forgetting its customers who will be flying on its existing fleet either. The airline’s A320s are also undergoing something of a refresh, leaving them “like new,” according to the CEO.
“All of our A320s are going through what we call a cabin re-styling. We’re replacing the interiors on all of those with new seats and new entertainment systems, so that when you get on, it’s going to look like new.”
But has the coronavirus crisis scuppered the airline’s plans to undertake these refurbs? Not really, although Hayes did note that the program was paused at the present time. This is likely to be a measure designed to cut costs but will not mean it won’t continue once the shape of recovery is better known. He said,
“We were actually just over halfway through that process when COVID hit, and we’ve kind of put that on pause. But we will pick that up again once demand suggests we need the airplanes.”
Between the brand new A320neos, the refreshed A320-200s and the shiny new A220s, JetBlue’s fleet is going to be looking pretty smart going forward. Hayes agrees, saying,
“In a couple of years, every airplane we have is either going to look new or be new.”
Despite the challenges facing the sector, it seems JetBlue is firmly focused on the future. We can’t wait to see the arrival of its first A220.