UK Holiday Carrier Jet2 Eyes Significant Airbus Order

UK leisure airline Jet2 is reportedly weighing up an order for dozens of new jets. The airline, presently an all-Boeing operator bar one A321-200, is said to be leaning towards Airbus for its fleet renewal. Jet2 is one of the last airlines in the world to pick between the two manufacturers’ new technology product lines.

Jet2 737
Photo: Getty Images

New planes for Jet2

There are indications that UK airline and tour operator Jet2 could be in the market for some new planes. Quite a lot of new planes, too. Reuters reports that information has been received from industry sources to suggest that the airline is in ‘advanced talks’ for dozens of new jets.

In pole position to secure this order is Airbus, likely with its popular A320neo family of aircraft. Should an order emerge, it would come as a blow to Boeing, which has long been the supplier of choice for the Jet2 fleet.

Reuters’ reporting suggests that as many as 50 new Airbus aircraft could be on the verge of being ordered, a deal with would be worth around $5 billion before discounts. However, the source also stated that both planemakers are in fierce competition for the Jet2 deal, so perhaps Boeing is still in with a shout.

Jet2 responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment with the following statement:

“As a successful airline and tour operator, we are constantly in discussion with different aircraft manufacturers – this is part of our normal course of business.”

Jet2 737
Historically a Boeing-heavy operator, Jet2 is yet to pick a new technology provider. Photo: Jet2

Jet2 is one of the last airlines in the world to make a decision on a new technology aircraft. Most other airlines have picked the 737 MAX, the A320neo, or a combination of both, but the UK leisure carrier is yet to show its hand.

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A move away from Boeing?

Although it started life ferrying flowers to the UK from the Channel Islands with a fleet of six A300s, Jet2 has been a heavy Boeing operator since it moved into the passenger transportation business in 2003. The last A300 left the fleet in 2006. Over the years, it has flown 126 Boeing aircraft, mainly from the 737 family, although it has also had a sizeable fleet of 757s.

Right now, according to ch-aviation, it has a fleet of 91 aircraft. This includes seven 737-300s, 75 737-800s and eight 757-200s. The 757s, in particular, are getting rather elderly, with an average age of 30 years across the fleet. The -300s, too, are older, averaging 23.4 years across the fleet, while the -800s average 12 years of age.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the fleet outlined above only adds up to 90 planes. That’s because, in February 2020, something rather interesting happened. For the first time since retiring the A300s, the airline took an Airbus on lease. G-HLYF is a former Thomas Cook A321-200, and has been busy flying Jet2’s leisure routes around Europe for the past year and a half.

Jet2 A321
The A321-200 joined the fleet in 2020. Photo: Tony Hisgett via Flickr

Ch-aviation data shows that two more A321-200s are heading Jet2s way. Both are former Thomas Cook aircraft, and although there’s no firm date for delivery yet, at least one is in maintenance at present, suggesting it could find use pretty soon.

The A321 could replace the 757s

The A321 is the natural successor to the 757-200. It isn’t a perfect fit, but it’s closer in capacity than the 737 MAX, and the neo version has proven to be a hit with cost-conscious airlines across the world. Data from RadarBox.com shows that most of the 757 fleet hasn’t seen much action since the start of COVID, and these incoming A321ceos could be seen as a replacement for those.

Jet2 Boeing 757
Could Jet2 be eyeing the A321neo as a replacement for its 757s? Photo: Riik@mctr via Flickr

If Jet2 is eyeing the A321 to replace the 757s, it would make sense for it to shift to being an Airbus-heavy airline. The commonality between Airbus types would enable it to replace the older 737s with A320neos using the same tooling, maintaining pilot flexibility in the process. As two-thirds of its 737NG fleet is leased, it could simply not renew the contracts at the end of the current term.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Boeing is out of the running by any means. It’s far easier to transition from a 737NG fleet to a 737 MAX fleet, although there is now an additional training element to consider. For now, we’ll have to wait and see which sides the chips fall for Jet2.

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