The Airbus A220 has been a popular aircraft. Delta was able to buy a large number of them cheap before Airbus took over sales of the program from Bombardier. It has a low cost of operations and can fly surprisingly long distances. The wide fuselage makes it a passenger favorite for comfort because each seat gets extra width. One of the signature elements of the plane is the window in the lavatory.
Delta’s Airbus A220 has 109 seats, compared to 132 seats on their Airbus A319.
American Airlines has 20 Embraer ERJ-190s as part of its mainline fleet, and they’re slated for retirement. They don’t have a replacement in the 100 seat range. And, as American’s Vice President of Planning shared with employees last week during a question and answer session, they don’t have an interest in the A220.
Instead, American plans to pick up more Airbus A319s on the used market super cheap – a cost driven down, in part, by the growing popularity of the A220.
We look at any and all aircraft that are out there, whether it’s something that fits into the American Airlines fleet of today or not we will go and look at it.
One of the hidden advantages of American Airlines is we are the largest operator of the A319 in the world. As there are more and more of these kind of planes [like the Airbus A220] that come online it effectively lowers the market value of the 319s at a time when so many 319s are aging out of their initial lease terms. There were so many 319s delivered from the 2005 – 2012 window. And so that creates a unique opportunity for us where our decision isn’t necessarily go buy a brand new small narrowbody, we can still be players in the used narrow body space.
We are looking at being able to fly all of our aircraft a lot longer, because that’s a really wise capital thing to do, but we’re also being very opportunistic about how we think about that small narrowbody fleet in the future.
American Airlines Airbus A319
Although United Airlines has been speculated as a possible Airbus A220 customer, Ned Russell reported last week that the airline is suggesting they too will stick with the larger Airbus A319 and their Boeing 737-700s.