Airbus has begun its A220 South Pacific demonstration tour, using a leased Air Baltic A220-300 YL-AAS.
The aircraft will be visiting several different countries on the tour, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and India. At each stop, the aircraft will be on static display followed by a demonstration flight with invited airline executives and guests.
The new ‘baby bus’
The A220 is the only new design aircraft in the 100-150 seat market and incorporates state-of-the-art technologies, the latest aerodynamic design and new-generation engines. Together, these advances generate fuel savings of at least 20% compared with older-generation aircraft of a similar size.
Originally marketed as the Bombardier C-Series, Airbus bought a 50.01% stake in the aircraft in July 2018. This allowed Airbus to leverage its global market base to guarantee a future for the C-Series. The decision was made almost immediately to rebrand the aircraft to the Airbus A220, bringing it in line with the rest of the Airbus product range.
The Airbus A220 offers extended range capability of up to 3,400 nautical miles. This makes the aircraft especially suitable for the kind of operations seen in the Pacific region, including short- to medium-haul operations between the various island nations, as well as longer routes to Australia and New Zealand.
The A220 is available in two versions, with the A220-100 seating between 100 and 130 passengers and the larger A220-300 seating between 130 and 160 in typical airline layouts. At the end of September 2019, customers worldwide had placed orders for 525 A220 aircraft with 90 already in service with six operators.
Who has ordered it?
Within the South Pacific region, only Air Vanuatu has placed an order for two A220-100 aircraft and two A220-300 aircraft. The first aircraft is due for delivery in June 2020. No doubt Airbus is hoping to bolster sales in the region with airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia, Alliance Airlines and Air Niugini, all of whom operate ageing 100-seat Fokker F100s.