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Airbus talks up versatility of A220 family for Asia Pacific markets

written by Jordan Chong | October 29, 2019
A view of the wing of the airBaltic A220-300 during the demonstration flight. (Seth Jaworski)
A view of the wing of the airBaltic Airbus A220-300 during the demonstration flight. (Seth Jaworski)

Airbus says is touting the versatility of its A220 regional jets as it brings the aircraft on a tour of the South Pacific.

The manufacturer has brought an A220-300 from launch customer airBaltic to Australia as part of a seven-country, nine-city flying visit of the region.

On Tuesday, the A220-300 YL-AAS was in Sydney for a demonstration flight, with Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, Airbus A220 head of engineering and customer support Rob Dewar, Airbus Canada chief executive Philippe Balducchi, airBaltic chief executive Martin Gauss, as well as representatives from Qantas and Airbus alongside invited guests and media.

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At the end of September 2019, Airbus had a total of 525 orders for the A220 family of aircraft, comprising 99 orders for the smaller A220-100 and 426 for the A220-300.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce on board the A220-300 demonstration flight. (Seth Jaworski)
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce on board the Airbus A220-300 demonstration flight. (Seth Jaworski)

Airbus single aisle family product marketing manager, customer affairs Souren Agopian noted the order book contained a diverse customer base from major network carriers such as Delta Air Lines, Korean Air and Swiss, to low-cost carriers (LCC) airBaltic and leasing companies that included Macquarie Financial Holdings and GTLK.

“There is a lot of traction for the A220 in the Asia Pacific region,” Agopian told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“We see a lot of potential for this aircraft in this specific market.

“The aircraft is extremely versatile. It offers the capability to do regional routes, which the Fokkers were able to do. But it also is capable of doing routes that are more long range like the 737.”

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In February 2019, Air Vanuatu became the launch customer for the A220 in this part of the world when it signed a firm order for two aircraft alongside options for a further two of the type.

The aircraft was one of the candidates to replace older regional jets such as the Boeing 717 and Fokker 100.

Airbus forecasts for the 100-150 seat market over the next two decades. (Airbus)
Airbus forecasts for the 100-150 seat market over the next two decades. (Airbus)

A220 was formerly known as the CSeries

The A220 is the newest member of the Airbus family of commercial aircraft. It was formerly known as the CSeries when the program was managed by Bombardier.

However, in October 2017 Airbus struck an agreement with Bombardier to become a partner and 50.01 per cent majority shareholder in the CSeries, with Bombardier and the Quebec government’s investment arm, Investissement Québec, owning approximately 34 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.

The deal was finalised on July 1 2018 and later in the month Airbus officially rebranded the CSeries as the A220 at an event held at its Toulouse headquarters.

A look at the flight deck of airBaltic A220-300. (Seth Jaworski)
A look at the flight deck of airBaltic Airbus A220-300. (Seth Jaworski)

Powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofans, the A220 family comprises two models – the A220-100 (100-135 seats) and A220-300 (130-160 seats), formerly Bombardier’s CS100 and CS300.

Currently, the A220-100 has a published range of 2,950nm when configured with 116 passengers, while Airbus lists the A220-300’s range on its website as 3,200nm with 141 passengers.

In May, Airbus announced it would offer an additional 450nm of range the A220 from the second half of 2020 thanks to an increase in the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 2.3 metric tonnes.

As a result, the A220-100 would have a range of 3,400nm, while the A220-300 would have a range of 3,350nm.

The A220-100’s basic MTOW would increase to 63.1t, from 60.8t currently, while the A220-300 would have a basic MTOW of 69.9t, up from 67.6t.

Range circles showing the where the Airbus A220 can fly to from Sydney. (Airbus)
Range circles showing the where the Airbus A220 can fly to from Sydney. (Airbus)

Agopian said the A220 would be able to cover “pretty much all of Oceania” from Sydney, which included the islands of the South Pacific, as well as Denpasar in Indonesia.

Further, since the aircraft began service in December 2016 it has operated long-range flights such as airBaltic’s Riga to Abu Dhabi service (2,715nm), as well as been deployed on short-haul routes by Korean Air that involved up to 13 legs per day.

“That speaks to the versatility of the aircraft,” Agopian said.

Gauss said airBaltic was so impressed by the introduction of the type in December 2016 that the airline subsequently made the decision to replace its Boeing 737-300s and 737-500s, as well as its Q400 turboprops, with the A220.

Beyond the economics, Gauss said the passenger feedback on the A220 had also been very positive.

“There is no aircraft in the world where passengers proactively write to the airline or post on Twitter still today everyday of their experience they had on that aircraft,” Gauss said.

airBaltic Airbus A220-300 YL-AAS at Sydney Airport as part of its Asia Pacific demonstration tour. (Jordan Chong)
airBaltic Airbus A220-300 YL-AAS at Sydney Airport as part of its Asia Pacific demonstration tour. (Jordan Chong)

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