- JetBlue Airways became the second US airline to receive the Airbus A220 on Thursday with the first aircraft flying to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- The A220 comes as part of a fleet renewal that will see JetBlue retire its smallest jet, the Embraer E190.
- Passengers can expect to fly on the jet in 2021 with the first routes planned out of JetBlue’s Boston hub.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Christmas came a bit late for one airline as Thursday saw the first delivery of the Airbus A220 to JetBlue Airways, just in time for the new year.
Airbus handed the keys over to JetBlue for the first of 70 models, marking a new era for the 20-year-old carrier that will see its smallest aircraft retired and replaced with one of the newest aircraft currently flying.
The new plane, which remains nameless for the time being but wears the registration N3008J, came painted in JetBlue’s instantly-recognizable blue and white livery but sports a new tail design. The pattern is called “hops,” the term for the flights that make up a larger journey, as the curved lines resemble airline routes.
Each new JetBlue aircraft type receives a new tail design, a trend that started with the arrival of the Airbus A321 in 2013. Passengers seated near the wings of the A220 will also notice the design is also painted on the aircraft’s wing attachments, known as winglets, in a first for a JetBlue aircraft.
Powering the aircraft are two Pratt & Whitney Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines, offering between 19,000 and 25,000 pounds of thrust while reducing fuel burn by 40% compared to the aircraft they’ll be replacing, according to the airline. Their fuel efficiency is only matched by their quietness as their manufacturer says noise levels are reduced by half.
JetBlue hasn’t yet unveiled the interior of the aircraft but customers won’t likely be disappointed as the airline has been steadily improving its onboard product, as Business Insider found on a flight from New York to Fort Myers, Florida on a newly-refurbished Airbus A320. The new cabin experience will almost definitely include free in-flight WiFi, touch-screen entertainment screens, on-demand movies and television shows, and in-seat power outlets.
“The interior of JetBlue’s A220 will be as impressive as the operating capabilities of the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement. “Customers will also enjoy an elevated inflight experience with wider seats, spacious overhead bins, and extra-large windows.”
The A220 is the fifth aircraft type to join JetBlue’s fleet since its inception at the turn of the century. Its arrival comes at an exciting time for the airline as it introduces a new service offering for Mint business class and prepares to head overseas with service to London in the new year with a new aircraft slated to join the fleet in 2021, the Airbus A321neoXLR.
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- The Airbus A330-800neo entered service with Kuwait Airways in November after being delivered in October as Airbus’ newest passenger jet.
- It’s the smaller variant of the A330neo family but still boasts an impressive range of 8,150 nautical miles and greater efficiency thanks to new Rolls-Royce engines.
- With only three airlines publicly placing orders for the aircraft, however, it’s likely to be a flop.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The latest passenger jet from Airbus just began flying passengers, placing it among the most exclusive airliners currently flying.
Kuwait Airlines took delivery of two Airbus A330-800neos in late October, the first arrivals of an eight-aircraft order from the flag carrier. The jet can now be found flying on the Kuwait City-Dubai route exclusively, according to Flightradar 24 data, as Kuwait Airways and its flight crews become acquainted with Airbus’ latest innovation.
Known as the “entry-level wide-body,” the A330-800neo is the smallest in the A330neo family. Its 2018 list price of $259.9 million makes it the second-cheapest wide-body aircraft in the Airbus lineup behind the jet’s predecessor, the A330-200.
Airbus, however, had little reason to celebrate the aircraft’s entry into service as the jet is proving to be a commercial flop. Only three airlines have publicly ordered the aircraft with Airbus failing to break even 20 orders, paling in comparison to the larger A330neo that’s seen orders from the likes of Delta Air Lines and TAP Air Portugal.
Read more: 6 cargo airlines and freight operators poised to win big when Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is ready to go
But despite its commercial shortcomings, the A300-800neo is still an impressive plane with advances in range and efficiency compared to its predecessor.
Here’s a closer look at the Airbus A330-800neo, now flying passengers for Kuwait Airways.
The A330neo family is the 2.0 version of Airbus’ popular A330 wide-body jets, equipped with new engines and a slightly reworked design to maximize range and efficiency.
It’s the latest in Airbus’ next-generation lineup that also includes the A350 XWB…
And the A320neo family of aircraft.
Airbus developed two A330neo aircraft in the new series: the larger A330-900neo and smaller A330-800neo.
The A330-800neo is based on the A330-200, with the two nearly identical except for three main differences.
The first difference is the engine choice. Two Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines exclusive to the A330neo family provide between 68,000 and 72,000 pounds of thrust.
Next, the sharklet wingtips on the A330-800neos are curved, compared to the sharp-edged design on the A330-200.
And finally, the cockpit windows are surrounded by black paint, almost as if wearing a mask.
Even though it’s the smaller of the two A330neos, it can still seat up to 406 passengers in a high-density configuration. In a normal configuration, it seats up to 260 passengers.
The jet also has a top range of 8,150 nautical miles, 900 more than the A330-200 can fly.
Its main competitor is the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with the two jets commiserating as the smallest in their respective families.
Source: Business Insider
But judging from Airbus’ order book, the Boeing jet is clearly the bigger winner.
Read More: Boeing’s revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here’s how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet.
Kuwait Airways took delivery of the first A330-800neo on October 29 and began passenger flights with it in November between Kuwait City and Dubai.
Source: Airbus and Flightradar 24
The flag carrier opted for a 235-seat configuration with a 32-seat business class cabin and a 203-seat economy class cabin.
Although flying for a major carrier like Kuwait Airways, the A330-800neo won’t likely be as big a success as its sibling since so few have been ordered by airlines.
The only other known carriers that have the aircraft on order is Africa’s Uganda Airlines with two aircraft…
And Air Greenland with a memorandum of understanding for one aircraft.
Airbus has had better luck, however, with the A330-900neo, developed first as the larger variant seating up to 440 passengers with a 7,200-nautical mile range.
It’s based on the A330-300.
TAP Air Portugal first took delivery of the jet in November 2018 and it also yielded orders from major global carriers.
In the US, Delta Air Lines placed a 25-aircraft order, the only American carrier to take on the A330neo.
Source: Delta Air Lines
It could also be found flying with Air Mauritius…
And Air Senegal, among others.
Luckily, the A330-800neo isn’t a clean-sheet design and it didn’t cost Airbus as much to develop it as it would’ve if the jets were built from scratch.
JetBlue is the second US carrier to fly the aircraft behind Delta Air Lines, which began flying the smaller A220-100 in February 2019 from New York to Boston and Dallas. Delta now flies the aircraft on routes across the country and just acquired the larger Dash 300 variant that JetBlue now flies.
Delta’s order gave the A220’s former manufacturer, Bombardier, the foothold it needed in the US but also prompted the trade dispute that resulted in Airbus taking over the project.
The A220 will also power JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s new startup airline, Breeze Airways. And to the north, Air Canada began flying the larger A220-300 in January.
The first routes for the jet have not been announced but JetBlue’s head of revenue and planning, Scott Laurence, told Business Insider in a prior interview that Boston will see the new jet first. Initial service will be on existing short-haul routes such as Boston-Washington so flight crews can get acquainted with the new plane.
“We’re planning around making sure that the introduction is flawless and we want to give the airplane a bit of a boost in flying easily operated an easily operated initial network,” Laurence said.
After that, Laurence said the plane will head further and further west, flying to cities like Austin and Denver before eventually serving the West Coast. The A220 has a cross-country range of 3,350 nautical miles that JetBlue intends to use to the fullest with eventual transcontinental service from Boston to cities like Sacramento, California and Portland, Oregon during the summer.
“That airplane is so flexible for us,” Laurence said, as the aircraft can fly nearly every route JetBlue operates in the US and most of its current international routes. New York will also see the aircraft on routes to cities like Albuquerque and the A220 will serve to aid JetBlue’s new hybrid route network.
The pandemic has seen JetBlue launch new routes to secondary markets like Charleston, South Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia to cities as far as Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They’re called “long, thin routes” as demand is often middling but the right aircraft can make the route viable. And the A220 has the economics to make them work.
“We’re going to stretch the legs of this airplane,” Laurence said. “It produces great seatbelt cost on long routes, and that’s something that we could not do with our E190 fleet.”
The A220 will also be deployed to hard-to-reach airports including Key West, where the runway is just shy of a mile long at a mere 5,076 feet. JetBlue is launching non-stop flights to the Lower 48’s southernmost city in 2021 from New York and Boston with the Embraer E190 and is forced to limit the number of seats it sells to meet the airport’s standards.
But for the A220, it’s nothing the aircraft can’t handle.
“As we start integrating the A220 in the network, some of our more performance challenged airports will become priorities for the A220,” Laurence said. “Key West is likely one of them.”
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