The Airbus A220 is gaining ground in popularity around the world and has just embarked on a tour of the Asia Pacific region. This raises the question as to whether or not Qantas or Air New Zealand would be interested in buying it for their fleets.
Incorporating all of the latest state-of-the-art technologies and aeronautical designs, the A220 has found a niche market when it comes to 100-150 seat aircraft. With new fuel-efficient engines and an airframe built using lighter materials, the A220 offers 20% fuel savings when compared to older similar-sized planes.
The Airbus A220 is ETOPS approved
The A220 also has an extended range capability of 3,400 nautical miles that will make it very attractive to Pacific region airlines that fly short to medium-haul flights between island nations. The Airbus A220 would also be perfect for Australian domestic flights and regional flights originating in New Zealand.
A big plus for Pacific regional use is that the A220 is ETOPS approved, which means it is allowed to fly more than three hours away from land.
Knowing that they have the right aircraft for the required job, Airbus has just launched a tour of the Asia Pacific region using a leased airBaltic Airbus A220-300. During the tour of the region, the A220 will stop at nine destinations in seven countries. This includes two stops in India during the plane’s flight back to Riga.
Quite rightly, Airbus has decided to make the first stop on the tour the island nation of Vanuatu. The nation’s flag carrier, Air Vanuatu, has ordered four A220s as it goes about modernizing its fleet.
After its stay at Bauerfield International Airport (VLI), the airBaltic jet will pay a visit to Australia, stopping at Sydney and Brisbane before moving on to Auckland, New Zealand.
Once the Kiwi’s have given the plane their seal of approval, it’s on to Noumea, New Caledonia, and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. On its flight back to Europe the aircraft will make a stop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia before flying on to Bangalore and New Delhi in India.
Demonstration flights will take place at each stop
At each stop on the route, the plane will be parked up for inspection and will give demonstration flights for invited guests and airline executives.
The airBaltic aircraft that is being used is configured as a single-class cabin with 145 seats with two on one side of the aisle and three on the other. While 145 seats might seem too much for some routes to fill, the A220 also comes in a smaller 100 to 130 seat version.
Why would the A220 be good for Qantas?
From what we are led to believe, Qantas has been mulling over the A220 for some time as a replacement for their aging domestic fleet of aircraft. Some of the planes used commonly for domestic flights are over 25 years old and nowhere near as economical to operate as the A220.
Of the Qantas planes in service, which include 75 Boeing 737s, 20 Boeing 717-200s, 17 Fokker 100s, and 45 Dash 8s, all could be replaced by the A220.
If Qantas decided to go all A220 for its domestic and New Zealand flights, can you imagine the savings they would have in fuel costs and maintenance? Plus it would allow them to fly to airports in the region that, up until now, might not have been profitable.
The same goes for Air New Zealand who could use the A220 on routes currently served by A320s.
It will be interesting to see how the A220 tour goes. With the plane selling like it is, Qantas and Air New Zealand might want to get their orders in sooner rather than later.
As of the end of September Airbus had orders for 525 A220s with 90 already in service with six operators.