Airbus has backlog of almost 500 orders for new A220 aircraft

Aircraft, partially built in Belfast, was showcased to airlines in Dublin on Monday

The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100 to 150 seat market segment

The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100 to 150 seat market segment

 

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus believes the aviation industry will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023-2025, but said in Dublin on Monday that it has a backlog of almost 500 orders of its new A220 model, which is partially built in Belfast.

The airline was at Dublin Airport to “show off” the A220 to some of the airlines based in the capital, as well as to the leasing and financing community, said Airbus head of leasing customers, Sinead Cormican.

The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100 to 150 seat market segment, offering up to 1,100 nautical miles more range. It has wider aisles to increase turnaround speeds, while its noise footprint is also up to 50 per cent smaller than previous generation aircraft.

Airbus currently has 643 historical orders from around 25 customers, of which 173 have been delivered
Airbus currently has 643 historical orders from around 25 customers, of which 173 have been delivered

Seats

Airbus says that in comparison to the model’s “nearest competitors”, it has a range of up to 6,390km, offers up to 20 more seats, and up to 14 per cent lower operating cost per seat. It also has the widest seats, largest windows and 20 per cent more overhead storage space per passenger compared to its competitors.

The aircraft burns 25 per cent less fuel per seat, while the air in the cabin is a mix of fresh air drawn from outside, and air that has been passed through HEPA filters, which remove 99.9 per cent of air particles. The air in the A220 cabin is renewed fully every two –three minutes.

Airbus currently has 643 historical orders from around 25 customers, of which 173 have been delivered, leaving a backlog of 470, according to Airbus head of single aisle marketing, Claude Debeauquenne.

The aircraft is primarily manufactured at Mirabel in Canada and Mobile in the United States, buts its wings are made at the former Bombardier aerospace factory in east Belfast. The factory is now owned by US giant Spirit AeroSystems.

Mr Debeauquenne said it would be difficult for the industry to “escape the reality of the Covid-19 crisis”, but added that many markets around the world are already showing signs of recovery.

“Domestic markets worldwide have recovered to 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “Some markets like China and North America are showing recovery levels equivalent to what they were flying before the pandemic.

“Domestic traffic is the premium market for single aisle aircraft, so this is good news for single aisles and even more so for the A220.”

He said the company was seeing “strong momentum in sales and strong momentum in production capabilities”, and continued to receive orders for the aircraft throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Recovery

“We see a recovery corridor anytime between 2023 and 2025, first with domestic traffic and then international,” he said. “The fact of the matter is we are very much dependent on local regulations, quarantine measures, and specific requirements for entry.

“That is something that is the hands of governments. That is the reason why international traffic is really lagging behind. We see vaccination passports that allow people to travel again without any restrictions are probably the way forward.”

Air Baltic chief executive Martin Gauss said his company is the largest A220 operator in Europe. “After Covid, the biggest issue facing airlines will be to address climate change,” he said.

“These aircraft give you the best chance because it is so far ahead of others. We have achieved a large portion of the target we have to achieve as airlines just by taking the Airbus A220.

“Flying to London Gatwick on the A220 involves significantly lower fuel burn as against a 737. It is a cash saving of $775 (€657). If you are the CFO of an airline, this is all that counts. Each time we take off, it is a pure cost saving.”