JetBlue signs up for 60 A220s

An order for 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, the rebranded Bombardier CS300, has been placed by US carrier JetBlue, with options for 60 more.

Deliveries will begin in 2020 when the first five aircraft will be handed over and continue through until 2025, with the additional delivery options for 60 more beginning in 2025. The Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan (GTF) PW1500G-powered aircraft are not the only part of the deal done with Airbus, with the airline also converting an existing order for 25 A320neos to the larger A321neo and adjusting the delivery schedule.

The carrier will start retiring its existing 60-strong Embraer E190 fleet in 2020 and phase them all out by approximately 2025.

Regarding the additional 60 options, New York-based JetBlue says it has retained flexibility to convert certain aircraft to the smaller A220-100 if it chooses. Both members of the A220 family share commonality in more than 99% of their replaceable parts as well as the same family of engines. The A220s will all be assembled in Mobile, Alabama.

The memorandum of understanding for the 60 firm orders of the A220-300 makes it the second largest buyer of the aircraft type, behind Delta Air Lines which has ordered 75 of the CSeries prior to the official rebranding of the aircraft as the A220. AirBaltic remains third with 50 orders, Air Canada fourth with 45 and others such as Macquarie Air Finance and Republic Airways ordering 40 each. Swiss Airlines has ordered 30.

“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,” said Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue. “As we approach our 20th anniversary, the A220, combined with our A321 and restyled A320 fleet, will help ensure we deliver the best onboard experience to customers and meet our long-term financial targets as we continue disciplined growth into the future.”

 

Endorsement

Eric Schulz, chief commercial officer for Airbus, said JetBlue’s selection of the A220 aircraft as a complement to its growing A320 family fleet “is a tremendous endorsement – both of the A220 itself and of the way these two aircraft can work together to provide airline network flexibility and a great customer experience.”

Chris Calio, president of commercial engines at Pratt & Whitney, commented: “We’ve been powering JetBlue with our V2500 engines since they started operations in 2000. We now look forward to also supporting JetBlue across their two new fuel-efficient, next-generation aircraft platforms.”

JetBlue said the A220-300’s cabin made it “the perfect fit” and that its design offers customers the best inflight experience with wider seats, spacious overhead bins and extra-large windows. The aircraft is designed to deliver approximately 40% lower fuel burn per seat than the airline’s current E190 fleet, it added.

The order followed what it described as “a comprehensive review of multiple options for its 100-seat aircraft. In addition to its financial analysis, JetBlue invited frontline leaders and crewmembers, including technical operations, to evaluate the aircraft in person at JetBlue’s JFK hangar.”

It will phase in the A220-300 as a replacement for its fleet of E190s, saying the new aircraft’s range and seating capacity would add flexibility to its network strategy as it targets growth in its focus cities, including options to schedule it for transcontinental flying. The aircraft also opens the door to new markets and routes that would have been unprofitable with its existing fleet, it added.

“We expect the A220 to be an important long-term building block in our goal to deliver superior margins and create long-term shareholder value,” said Steve Priest, executive vice president and chief financial officer, JetBlue. “We are confident the A220 will perform well in every aspect, including network, cost, maintenance, or customer experience.”

The E190 has played an important role in the airline’s network since 2005, it continued, but added that the carrier’s fleet review determined that the A220’s economics “would allow the airline to lower costs in the coming years. 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.”

JetBlue flies more than 40 million customers annually to 102 cities in the US, Caribbean and Latin America and averages 1,000 daily flights.

Airbus says the A220 family will serve a worldwide market for smaller single-aisle airliners, estimated at around 6,000 aircraft over the next 20 years. The company now manufactures, markets and supports A220 aircraft under its recently finalised ‘C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership’ (CSALP) agreement.

 

Written by: Mark Thomas

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