JetBlue Expects First Airbus A220 Delivery In Second Half Of 2020

Today, US carrier JetBlue released its first-quarter 2020 earnings report. One small note on the airline’s update on its fleet was that it anticipates taking delivery of its very first Airbus A220 sometime in the second half of this year. In 2018, the airline announced an order for 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft and included the option for 60 additional aircraft, beginning in 2025.

JetBlue A220
JetBlue first placed the order in 2018. Photo: Airbus

Announced on July 10th, 2018, here’s what JetBlue’s CEO had to say about their big agreement:

“We are evolving our fleet for the future of JetBlue, and the A220-300’s impressive range and economics offer us flexibility and support our key financial and operating priorities.” – Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue

Bittersweet news

Under normal circumstances, the arrival of a new aircraft – especially a type as new as the A220 – is cause for celebration. Obviously, 2020 has changed this completely. With passenger demand plummeting in the last three months, airlines have put large portions of their fleet into storage. Furthermore, some airlines expecting the arrival of new aircraft this year have instead deferred their deliveries. This has been the case for both IAG and AirAsia X.

With the expectation that aviation may not fully recover for years, any new aircraft deliveries in the next year or so may be seen as more of a liability than an asset. In fact, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the standard parking rate for an aircraft is 40 cents per thousand pounds a day. Additionally, the maintenance fees cost around $2,000 per month. Hence storing a single narrowbody would cost over $3,000 per month.

JetBlue-Shares-Up-Despite-Coronavirus
JetBlue has over 150 aircraft parked. Photo: JetBlue.

Therefore, if Airfleets information is correct, JetBlue’s 156 parked aircraft could cost over $400,000 per month – while at the same time not making a single dollar in revenue. Indeed, a new aircraft delivery in this current climate is more on the unwelcome side.

Superior economics

Still, the arrival of JetBlue’s first A220 will mean that operating costs are lower than the incumbent Embraer E190. In fact, Leeham News reports an expected improvement in costs of 25%-30%. Although, this margin of difference in deal monetary figures may be a lot less with the price of fuel at all-time lows at this moment. This, of course, may change slightly by the time JetBlue’s first A220 arrives. This is especially the case as oil-producing countries cooperate to cut their production rates.

Air France, Airbus, A220-500
The A220 has seen a notable bump in orders since Airbus took control of the program from Bombardier. Photo: Airbus

Conclusion

It’s interesting to note that JetBlue had originally planned to take five A220s this year, with its 2018 press release saying:

“JetBlue plans to take delivery of the first five aircraft in 2020, the airline’s 20th year of service. Deliveries will continue through 2025. JetBlue expects it will begin to reduce flying with its existing fleet of E190 aircraft beginning in 2020. The phase out will continue gradually through approximately 2025.”

It’s unknown if JetBlue is actively deferring delivery of the other four, or if Airbus has been experiencing delays with production of this type. The production rate of this particular type has certainly been much slower than its bigger brothers.

At the end of the day, it will still be an exciting occasion for most aviation enthusiasts to see another airline take its first A220. Hopefully, by the time it arrives, there will be enough demand for it to take to the skies.

Are you excited about JetBlue taking delivery of its first A220? Let us know in the comments!

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