At the time of ordering the Airbus A220s, the airline’s press release stated, “While the E190 has played an important role in JetBlue’s network since 2005, the airline’s fleet review determined that the A220’s economics would allow the airline to lower costs in the coming years.”
It continued, “The A220 was designed by previous manufacturer Bombardier to seat between 130 and 160 customers, enabling financial and network advantages over the current 100-seat Embraer configuration.”
While the natural successors to the Embraer E190s might have been Embraer’s next-generation aircraft offering of the E190-E2, a number of factors might have caused the airline to stick with Airbus.
The E190-E2 can only seat a maximum of 114 passengers, a significant deterrent when compared to the Airbus A220. The E190-E2 also has a shorter range, making it less sufficient for longer transatlantic flights.
THE AIRBUS A220’S DRAMATIC RISE TO THE TOP
The Airbus A220s journey to becoming one of the best in its class is testament to the cutthroat nature of the aircraft manufacturing industry. Originally designed by Bombardier Aerospace in Canada, the aircraft’s development began in 2007 to compete with smaller regional and mid-range aircraft through its long range.
In 2008, in a remarkable beginning to the Farnborough Air Show, Bombardier officially launched the program, also announcing a letter of intent from Lufthansa for 60 of the aircraft with 30 options. The aircraft would be assembled in Mirabel, Canada.
At the time, Lufthansa (LH) Senior Vice President, Nico Buchholz said, “Our initial evaluations of the CSeries family of aircraft and discussions with Bombardier over the last few months have evolved and made us believe that the CSeries family of aircraft clearly meets our stringent requirements for sustainable fleet development, both in terms of environmental and commercial requirements, and flexibility for the future. We are proud to be a part of its launch.”
The CS100 received certification from Transport Canada in 2015, followed by certification by the United States Federal Aviation Authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency in 2016.
Although the aircraft’s development and marketing was looking upward at the time, difficulty struck Bombardier as production delays and increasingly severe competition from Boeing and Airbus left the program struggling.
Airlines preferred the Airbus and Boeing alternatives, citing the lower costs of not having to retrain Pilots on a new aircraft type and the steady stream of aircraft being produced and delivered by Airbus and Boeing.
While the Bombardier CS program was on life support, Air Canada (AC) gave the aircraft production company a huge boost with an order for 45 of the CS300 with an option for 30 additional aircraft in February of 2016.
Crisis came to Bombardier later in 2016 when Boeing made a deal with United Airlines (UA) for 65 Boeing 737-700s, a direct competitor to the CSeries at the time. The aircraft were sold at a discount of 70-75% of their list price. The deal made by Boeing stopped the potential tread by Bombardier over one of Boeing’s key customers.
The program was further boosted by unconfirmed reports at the time of a sale of aircraft to Delta Air Lines (DL). On April 28, 2016, DL and Bombardier announced the deal for a whopping 75 CS100s with an option for 50 additional aircraft.
At the time of the announcement, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian said, “These new aircraft are a solid investment, allowing us to take advantage of superior operating economics, network flexibility, and best-in-class fuel performance.”
The aircraft were purchased by DL at a discount of 65% to 70% of the list price. The sale brought Bombardier back into the mix of competition for aircraft production, giving it a much needed boost.
During the development of the CS100 and CS300, Airbus became keenly aware of its competition to the Airbus A320 family, taking note of the letter of intent by LH, an order for 40 CS300s by Republic Airways Holdings (YX) in 2016, followed by further orders in late 2016.
Delivery delays as well as the extremely competitive market forced Bombardier to consider a partnership with Airbus. In October of 2017, Airbus’ 50.1% acquisition of the CSeries Program was announced. Airbus did not have to assume any debt or pay into the program, but instead brought value in extensive supply chain infrastructure and marketing abilities.
The CSeries aircraft were promptly renamed the Airbus A220-100 and Airbus A220-300 in July of 2018. Hours after the name was changed, B6 surprised the aviation industry with an order for 60 of the type.
Notably, David Neeleman, the founder of jetBlue, has chosen the Airbus A220-300 as part Breeze’s fleet, his new venture. The airline, set to launch point-to-point service within the United States this year, ordered 60 Airbus A220-300s, set to be delivered beginning in 2022. Five of the aircraft were sold through a partnership with Voyager Aviation Holdings.
At the time of placing the order with Voyager, David Neeleman said, “We’re pleased to partner with Voyager as we put together our fleet of brand new Airbus A220 aircraft for next year. Together, we’ll offer US travelers a new choice in air travel, and a much-improved travel experience.”
THE AIRBUS A220’S TRANSATLANTIC PROSPECTS
As jetBlue prepares to begin transatlantic flights between the East Coast of the United States and Europe, operating the Airbus A220-300s to Europe may become a distinct possibility.
We may see the airline inaugurate transatlantic flights as narrow body flights from Europe to the East Coast of the United States becomes a new trend. Specifically, TAP Portugal (TP) operates flights from Lisbon to Newark Liberty Airport and Boston Logan Airport using Airbus A321neo aircraft.
In addition, Aer Lingus (EI) flies from Dublin to Boston Logan Airport (BOS) using Airbus A321neos, and La Compagnie (B0) operates Airbus A321neo aircraft from Paris Orly (ORY) to Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) in an all business class cabin.
NEW YORK – Yesterday, Airways was given an exclusive tour of the brand new jetBlue (B6) Airbus A220-300 (N3008J) at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). In true COVID-19 fashion, the tour was held with social distancing and mask-wearing strongly in mind.
The aircraft, named ‘Hops’, took off on its maiden flight in early December of 2020, flying around the Airbus factory in Mobile, Alabama before being delivered to B6. On New Year’s Eve, the New York-based carrier took delivery of its first of 70 Airbus A220-300s on order to replace its aging Embraer E190 fleet.
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Source:: “Airways Magazine”