The Airbus A220 has shown to be the right choice during the Covid-19 crisis. Satu Dahl spoke with Airbus’ SVP marketing, François Caudron, to gain more insight into this versatile aircraft specifically designed for the small single-aisle market
As of end September 2020, a total of 123 Airbus A220s had been delivered to seven operators and are being flown on routes all over the world. Impressively, throughout the pandemic, airlines have maintained higher utilisation of the A220 in the incredibly challenging environment that has led to the grounding of 80 per cent of the worldwide passenger fleet. Airbus’ SVP marketing, François Caudron notes that roughly 50 per cent of the A220 fleet was flying during the worst months. “The A220 has then picked up back quickly since early August and up until October – close to about 100 per cent of the A220 worldwide fleet has been flying compared to January 2020 fleet data.”
In October, Airbus announced it had delivered its first US-assembled A220 aircraft from Mobile, Alabama to Delta Air Lines. “The delivery of the first US-built A220-300 is a historic moment that highlights Airbus’ growing industrial footprint in North America and makes us all extremely proud,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman & CEO of Airbus Americas. And Philippe Balducchi, who leads the A220 programme, noted: “Handing over the first US-assembled aircraft to a US-based customer is a real point of pride for the A220 programme. This delivery is the first of many to come and shows the strong collaborative spirit between the A220 programme teams globally.”
The A220 production in Mobile officially started in August 2019 and the A220 teams in Quebec and Alabama worked closely together to make the production in the US a success. Airbus says that approximately 400 US employees have been trained on A220 production, with some of these employees located in Mirabel, Canada where the A220 programme and primary final assembly line are located.
Delta Air Lines is currently the largest customer for the A220 with a total of 95 A220 aircraft on order and the airline will be the first A220 operator in the Americas to be operating both A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft types.
Regarding deliveries, François Caudron explains that, as of the end of October 2020, the manufacturer had delivered 38 A220-100 aircraft out of an order for 45 to Delta from the Mirabel, Canada final assembly line, as well as four A220-300 aircraft out of an order for 50 from the Mobile facility. When it comes to total deliveries in October, Airbus had delivered a total of 12 A220 aircraft for the month of October 2020; 11 A220s to Delta, including the first ever A220-300 from Mobile (four A220s from Mobile), and eight from Mirabel which included seven -100 aircraft for Delta and one -300 aircraft for Air Canada.
Another major US customer, JetBlue, is scheduled to get its first A220 delivered by the end of the year. This aircraft is being assembled in Mobile.
So, what are the main benefits the A220 offers to airlines? “The A220 is the only aircraft specifically designed for the small single-aisle market (100-150 seats), so it is an ideal complement to the A320 Family”, Caudron notes. “The A220 is filling the gap between large single-aisle and regional aircraft and contributes to complete Airbus’ single-aisle offer.
“The A220 is the only all-new design and offers a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn, CO2 emissions and operating costs relative to the previous generation and provides airlines with the flexibility required to continue flying during these challenging, lower-demand times and when the traffic recovers. We strongly believe that we have the right product for different airlines’ and passengers’ needs and that with this aircraft programme, we will keep on increasing our market share in the single-aisle market segment.
“In the longer term, we see a bright future ahead for the A220 with continued programme development, as well as a healthy and strong, growing customer base.”
Momentum for maintenance
Airbus extended its flight hour components maintenance services (FHS-C) to the A220 programme in April 2020 and over the past six months, FHS-C has been providing fully integrated component services including spares’ pool access, on-site stock at the main base and components repair to A220 customers. The Airbus service also provides a large stock of A220 Line Replaceable Units (LRUs). “The first A220 customers to take advantage of the service include SWISS and airBaltic, with more airlines expected to follow in the near future”, Caudron explains.
“With this recent extension of FHS-C to the A220, operators of all Airbus aircraft types can now benefit from Airbus’ FHS worldwide set-up and engineering expertise and its FHS supplier network, in addition to Airbus’ extensive knowledge gathered through worldwide in service feedback.”