JetBlue has just put in an order for 60 A220-300s at around $5.4 billion US. Airbus will begin delivery of the aircraft in 2020. However, the order won’t be complete until 2025 at the earliest. Still, that hasn’t stopped plenty of sky watchers from getting excited. So what will the new machines add to the JetBlue service?
The American low-cost airline JetBlue is seen as a domestic airline with a twist. Its main hub is located at JFK from where a network of US-US flights radiates. However, the carrier also offers some routes to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America too. Essentially, they are a domestic brand with transcontinental leanings. However, this service identity makes them the perfect user for the A220-300.
The narrow-body, twin-engine jet is a medium-range vehicle and perfect for short hops such as these. It’s also a more affordable option for a brand dedicated to offering value for money.
Investments and re-branding
Those in the know will instantly recognize the Airbus A220 as the previously titled, Bombardier CSeries. In its earlier incarnation, the two variants of the plane, the A220-100 and the larger A220-300 were known as the CS100 and the CS300 respectively. These two planes were seen as a valuable product in international airline sales, but there was a kink in the armour. At the time, Bombardier wasn’t best placed to finance or produce the kind of numbers that would be in demand and this was a shame.
Thankfully, in 2017, Airbus and Bombardier managed to reach an agreement to get the CSeries program moving again, with Airbus taking the lion’s share by one-hundredth of a percent. This was considered a smart move on both sides, with Airbus estimating a market demand of over 6,000 new, medium-sized aircraft over the next two decades. Being now a joint US – Canadian venture meant a second assembly line in Mobile, Alabama. And this is where JetBlue’s plane will likely come from. But while the plane remained the same, it was soon rebranded as an Airbus to reflect their investment capital.
In with the new
JetBlue’s fleet currently consists of the Embraer 190 model of aircraft, but these will fall due for replacement in two years time. Luckily for both Airbus and JetBlue, the rate at which these older planes will need to be replaced is around the same as the estimated ramp-up of production out of Alabama.
While new planes are always exciting, the biggest advantages JetBlue will see from this fleet upgrade are fuel effectiveness, passenger experience and revenue.
The Airbus A220-300 has a 40% lower fuel burn per seat than the E190, which is an incredible number. This is partly due to better fuel efficiency and a slightly larger plane. JetBlue’s current planes also have a capacity of 100, while the Airbus A220 can seat up to 160 passengers in a pure economy set up. The A220-300 is also the longer reach of the two models meaning JetBlue could soon start offering more transcontinental flying.
The Airbus A220 is currently in operation with several international airlines who bought it under its previous name. These include Swiss International Air Lines and Korean Air and both have been more than satisfied with the machine. Delta Airlines has also put in an order to supplement its Dreamliner fleet with the A220-300.
In short, securing the A220’s is a big win for JetBlue. It will probably make domestic flights in the US more of a pleasure for us too.