If you have been reading Simple Flying for the last couple of months, then you know how much we love the Airbus A220.
And we are not alone, with Delta doubling down on its mammoth A220 order and many other airlines across the world also grabbing their own before the waiting list becomes too long. In fact, the A220 program has already sold 537 units.
What makes the A220 so good for Airlines?
The A220 has some amazing pros and then some odd cons that place it in a very unique space in the industry.
- It has a great range, able to fly up to 3,200nm (5,920km). It is also ETOPS approved, meaning it can fly more than 3 hours outside of the range of land (such as the west coast of USA to Hawaii).
- It is super comfortable to fly in, with more room for standard economy passengers and even has windows in the bathroom. And these can’t be made smaller to add in more rows, as they are part of the bulkhead (A win for passengers for once!).
- Easily to fill up. Because it is smaller, it is easier to sell out all the seats than a bigger jet, making it more profitable.
- Because it is new and from a new manufacturer (Canada’s Bombardier) it utilizes a whole new range of modern technology that simply was not around in the last generation of plane designs. This means that the plane is cheaper to fly and cheaper to maintain as well.
- The A220 can use smaller runways than bigger planes (like the Boeing 737).
- But as it is small, it can only carry around 100 passengers (there are bigger versions that can carry more passengers, but it is silly to think it could compete with an A321neo or Boeing 797).
For these reasons, we also believe that British Airways should buy the A220 and use it in their fleet.
Why should Qantas have the A220?
It may come to a surprise to hear that Qantas has actually been considering the A220 since last August.
Found in their end of financial year statements from 2017/2018, a slide showed Qantas has started to look at replacing its aging fleet of regional aircraft.
And boy do they need to. As you can see from the slide above, Qantas has a very old fleet of domestic regional aircraft, some of which are actually the oldest that they operate (Over 25 years in operation wow!). Specifically, these are seventy-five B737s, twenty B717-200s, seventeen Fokker 100s, and forty-five Dash 8-200/-300/-400s. Most of which could be replaced by the A220.
“…We need to stay ahead of the curve and always be looking at new technology out there for the ultimate replacement of our fleet” – Qantas CFO Tino La Spina
If replaced by A220 aircraft, they would be put to work flying on all of the domestic routes around Australia (to some of the most remote places in the world) and over to New Zealand. It will also solve the problem of some cities only having limited connectivity (having to fly to the state capital first, then onto the destination city), with routes linking regional centers to other state capitals (Like Bendigo, Victoria, to Sydney, New South Wales).
Making the upgrade even more very attractive is that the A220 can use the existing runways designed for smaller aircraft and without modification.
With the bigger range of the A220, it also opens up opportunities to fly smaller and more profitable direct routes to the south pacific and other remote destinations in Asia, capturing seasonal demand like never before.
The only reason these existing regional aircraft have not been replaced already is that they provide an essential service for these communities and cannot be grounded for a long period of time.
Whilst there is a possibility that Qantas may also order the Embraer E2 (Or even both or none at all), our money is on the A220 taking it home.
What do you think? Will the A220 find its home at Qantas?