airBaltic will end its Boeing 737 fleet operations in the autumn, one year ahead of plan.
The airline aims to minimise complexity and benefit from the additional efficiency of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft which will become the only jet type operated by the Latvian airline.
Martin Gauss, chief executive of airBaltic, said: “Airbus A220-300 is the aircraft of our future and, by phasing out the Boeing 737, we will have the youngest jet fleet in Europe.
“The introduction of Airbus A220-300 has been very successful and provided the additional efficiency any airline is seeking in the highly competitive aviation market.
“Thanks to the good overall performance we took a decision to introduce a single type fleet of up to 80 (50 firm order and 30 options) Airbus A220-300 aircraft by 2022.”
So far airBaltic has received 14 of its Airbus A220-300 orders and eight new aircraft will join this year.
In late 2018, airBaltic phased out three of its Boeing 737-500 aircraft.
Currently the airline still operates six Boeing 737-300 and two Boeing 737-500 jets.
airBaltic serves over 70 destinations from Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius, offering the largest variety of destinations and convenient connections via Riga to its network spanning Europe, Scandinavia, the CIS and the Middle East.
William Franke, Air New Zealand, airBaltic, Spirit Airlines, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Airlink and the Airbus A220 airliner were announced Jan. 17 as among the top winners of the ATW 45th Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards.
Aviation Technology Achievement, to the Airbus A220, a highly efficient and comfortable airliner that is now scoring high marks with airlines worldwide and is embarked on a new trajectory since becoming part of the Airbus portfolio. “I am extremely proud that the A220 has been recognized by ATW for Aviation Technology Achievement,” said Philippe Balducchi, CEO, A220 Partnership. This award is testament to the thousands of women and men in Quebec and worldwide who have put their brains, hearts and souls into designing, producing and now supporting this revolutionary aircraft. The A220 is reshaping the 100 to 150 seat segment of aircraft to the great satisfaction of our customers and their customers, operating day in day out on a fast-growing number of routes around the globe.”
Leadership Excellence, to William “Bill” Franke, the managing partner of Indigo Partners whose extraordinary career has reshaped modern air transport. Franke is a leading figure behind the development of ultra-low cost carriers worldwide. Airlines that he helped to create include Frontier, Wizz, Volaris and Tiger Airways. Bill Franke commented, “I very much appreciate ATW’s recognition of our commitment to build a network of affordable carriers that make travel possible for many.”
Eco-Airline of the Year, to Air New Zealand, for which efficiency and sustainability are part of its DNA. Air New Zealand’s Project Green to reduce waste, its transition to a technologically advanced, renewably powered electric ground vehicle fleet, and its remarkable support for endangered species are among its many eco endeavors.
Passenger Experience Achievement, to Air New Zealand for its enhanced SkyCouch, which turns three economy seats into a couch after takeoff and is a rare example of a comfort option on long-haul travel to passengers in the main cabin. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said the airline was thrilled to receive two ATW Awards. “Air New Zealand is at the forefront of leadership in sustainability in aviation and has carved out a reputation for innovation and excellence in customer experience. These awards are terrific recognition of the hard work of our people over many years,” he said.
Value Airline of the Year, to Spirit Airlines, an ultra-low-cost carrier that has stayed true to its lowest-fares business model while significantly improving on-time and checked bag delivery performance, equipping its entire fleet with Wi-Fi, growing its network and delivering some of the industry’s best financial results. “On behalf of our entire team, I would like to thank Air Transport World for recognizing Spirit Airlines as this year’s Value Airline of the Year,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to providing the best value in the sky, and this award recognizes our mission to deliver an extraordinary Guest experience, while keeping our costs and fares competitive. From our reliable, on-time operation, to the installation of high-speed Wi-Fi on our entire fleet, Spirit continues to invest in the Guest experience and set the pace as an industry leader. This award is testament to the hard work of our entire Spirit Family across the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America, and a milestone in Spirit’s continued evolution to deliver More Go.”
Airline Market Leader, to airBaltic, a Latvian carrier that becomes the first airline to win this Award two years running. Building on its 2017 success, airBaltic has continued its fast growth and offers more than 70 connections from all three Baltic capitals, where it now commands a 56% market share. airBaltic saw record passenger numbers and revenue in 2018. Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic: “It is a remarkable achievement for us to be the first airline recognized as the ATW Airline Market Leader for the second consecutive year. We continue to build on our success, and, by providing larger capacities and increased efficiency, have further increased our market share in the Baltics.”
Airport of the Year, to Dallas Fort Worth International, which has managed growth while continuing to add enhancements that ease the passenger’s journey. DFW has transformed into a global mega-hub, investing in new facilities, infrastructure and technologies, but its hybrid use lease agreement model keeps down costs for its airline customers. “It’s truly an honor to be recognized as Air Transport World’s Global Airport of the Year, and it’s a credit to the nearly 2000 employees of DFW Airport, who continually go above and beyond to take care of customers, address the needs of stakeholders, and engage with our surrounding communities,” said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW Airport. “DFW is experiencing the fastest growth in more than a decade, and we see it as an opportunity to welcome the world to the Dallas Fort Worth region and advance the innovation and collaboration that deliver for our customers and make our communities stronger.”
Joseph S. Murphy Award, to Airlink, a rapid-response humanitarian relief organization that links airlines with pre-qualified nonprofits. This special Award recognizes the enormous work this small nonprofit has achieved by linking the capabilities and capacity of more than 40 commercial and charter airlines and 80 international nonprofits to get desperately-needed emergency resources to people and places where disasters such as hurricanes, floods and epidemics threaten multiple lives. “We are extremely honored to represent the aviation industry as a force for good and to be recognized by Air Transport World with the Joseph S. Murphy Award,” said Steven J. Smith, President and CEO of Airlink. “Our efforts to deliver humanitarian aid and relief workers to communities impacted by crises around the world would not be possible without the generosity and involvement of the aviation industry and its leaders. Together, we are utilizing aviation’s unique reach and speed to save and improve lives.”
The final 2019 ATW Airline Industry Award for Airline of the Year will be announced in January.
The 45th ATW Awards, sponsored by CFM International and Pratt & Whitney, will be presented on March 26, 2019, at a gala dinner at the JW Marriott Essex House Hotel in New York.
For more information about the awards, attending the award ceremony and sponsorship opportunities, visit awards.atwonline.com.
Julien Arsenault, Montreal, The Canadian Press, 16 January 2019
Airbus SE broke ground Wednesday on the A220 aircraft assembly line at its facility in Mobile, Ala., the first step in a US$300-million construction project paid for by Bombardier Inc.
That amount makes up a chunk of the US$925 million the Quebec plane-and-train maker could shell out by the end of 2021 under a partnership that saw Airbus take control of the C Series – now known as the A220 – last July without paying a penny.
The event took place at the Airbus plant in Alabama, where assembly of the popular A320 passenger jet is already under way. The French airplane giant said the new project will create 400 factory jobs.
Production of the narrow-body A220 is expected to start in the third quarter, whether or not plant construction is complete, in order to make the first deliveries in 2020.
Airbus said the project will generate economic spinoffs for Quebec, forecasting that northern suppliers of the A220 will rake in about $400 million per month once the Mirabel, Que., and Mobile facilities are up and running at full capacity.
The two plants will churn out 10 aircraft and four aircraft a month, respectively, the company said.
“The cost of parts produced by all suppliers in Quebec, including Bombardier, is more than $2.6 million for each aircraft,” Airbus said.
The A220 has some 537 firm orders from 19 customers, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and Moxy, according to the company’s latest data states. That includes 135 orders placed by U.S. airlines since Airbus seized the reins six months ago, a takeover that was first announced in October 2017.
The project will also receive US$16 million in the form of incentives from the local, regional and state governments, Airbus said.
16 January 2019 By: JON HEMMERDINGER, MOBILE Airbus is “likely” to develop a larger derivative of its A220 in the coming years – but only after the company has ramped up production and the aircraft has secured a firm place in the global aviation market.
“It’s very likely that… once the A220 has done the ramp up, is economically viable [and] then we can further invest, that this is going to happen,” Airbus president of commercial aircraft Guillaume Faury tells reporters on 16 January. “Once this success is on track, it would be time for looking at what we do for the product.
“We are not there yet,” he adds. “We see the very strong potential.” Industry observers have suggested such an aircraft would be called the A220-500.
Faury made his comments in Mobile as Airbus prepared to host an event marking the start of construction of Airbus’s A220 Mobile assembly site.
Speculation had long swirled that the A220’s previous owner Bombardier might develop a larger version of the aircraft then called the CSeries. The line-up includes the A220-100, which can carry up to 135 seats, and the A220-300, which can accommodate up to 160 passengers. Bombardier always denied those suggestions.
Delta Air Lines expects it could be forced to delay the start date for its Airbus A220 operations due to ramifications of the US government shutdown, management told analysts and media on an earnings call on 15 January.
“With non-essential work at the FAA shut down, our Airbus A220 start date is likely to be pushed back due to delays in the certification process,” says Delta chief executive Ed Bastian. The carrier did not expect to cancel any routes or flights, he clarified later in the call.
The comments reiterate previous concerns about the shutdown impacting the timeline for launching the new aircraft type, which the carrier had been planning to put into revenue service from 31 January. It plans to use the aircraft mainly on routes originating from coastal cities, such as from New York LaGuardia to Boston and Dallas/Fort Worth.
In addition, Bastian notes that the shutdown is also affecting the airline’s ability to put seven other aircraft deliveries into service. There could be potential impact on other aircraft such as the Airbus A330-900neos, Delta’s chief operating officer Gil West noted later in the call.
“It gets back into certification issues, that we certify seats and crew rest and things of that nature, wi-fi systems—that with the government shutdown become problematic for us,” he says.
The carrier does not foresee an immediate impact, he adds, but notes this could change later depending on how long the shutdown lasts.
Delta is also expecting the shutdown to have other consequences.
“With respect to the government shutdown, we are seeing some pressure on our business,” Bastian says. “On the revenue front we’re experiencing about $25 million per month in lower government travel.” The airline does not expect the shutdown to have a meaningful impact on its quarterly or yearly unit cost guidance.
Several US government departments have been shut since 22 December, with lawmakers at an impasse on federal spending after failing to reach an agreement over funding a wall on the US-Mexico border. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay.
Airbus expects its Mirabel A220 assembly site will have the ability to complete 10 aircraft monthly by the mid-2020s, a rate that the A220’s former owner Bombardier had once intended to hit by 2020.
In addition, by the mid-2020s Airbus expects its now-under-construction A220 assembly site in Mobile will be capable of producing four aircraft monthly, according to Airbus.
Airbus clarifies it would only reach those rates, which would equate to a combined 168 aircraft annually, if supported by demand.
But the figures show that much work remains before the Mirabel site reaches its capacity of 10 aircraft per month – work that Airbus insists continues to progress.
“The ramp-up is progressing,” Philippe Balducchi, chief executive of the A220 partnership, tells reporters during a media event at the company’s A220 assembly site in Mirabel.
Balducchi and several colleagues stressed to reporters that Airbus is still bringing its processes and efficiencies to the Mirabel plant. Production will increase, and costs should decrease, in the coming years, they say.
The Mirabel plant’s production rate remains relatively slow despite the programme being acquired by Airbus in the middle of last year. The site delivered 33 aircraft in 2018, short of Bombardier’s goal, announced before the Airbus acquisition, to deliver 40 aircraft during the year.
Airbus, to its credit, had not disclosed a 2018 A220 production goal.
The company has also not set a 2019 production goal, saying only that it expects to deliver more A220s this year than last.
Airbus’ estimate that Mirabel could produce 10 aircraft monthly by the mid-2020s follows several years during which Bombardier had publicly stated an expectation to reach that rate by 2020.
Then there is the question of whether demand would even support a combined Mirabel-Mobile production rate of 168 aircraft annually by the middle of next decade.
Airbus held orders for 537 A220s at the end of 2018, according to its own figures. But, some of those orders might be less than guaranteed, including 40 A220-300s still on the books for Republic Airways. Those orders have been viewed as uncertain by industry observers following Republic’s restructuring and bankruptcy proceeding.
But Airbus has seen some recent sales momentum, having firmed deals late last year to sell 60 A220-300s to JetBlue Airways and 60 of the same type to a prospective startup led by JetBlue and Azulfounder David Neeleman.
MIRABEL — As Airbus increases its footprint in Mirabel, the aircraft manufacturer says it wants to save over 10 per cent in costs on each A220 that comes off the assembly line.
A majority stakeholder of the project since July 1, the European company held a press conference Monday in the Laurentiens as part of a tour of its North-American sites and outlined its latest goals.
“We have a lot at stake here,” said Philippe Balducchi, director of the A220 program. “It’s clear this will be a challenge.”
He said a significant source of these savings will come from the aircraft’s supply chain, given that Airbus is negotiating hard with suppliers to get the best possible prices.
Meanwhile, an increase in productivity and accelerated production timelines should also cut costs, he added.
“We estimate that (the reductions) could be US$3 million per airplane,” said Benoit Poirier, an analyst with Desjardins Marchés.
In hopes of accelerating the process, Airbus transferred 10 workers from its A350 program to the Mirabel plant.
Last year the production on the A220 nearly doubled as 33 of the aircraft were delivered to clients — 13 by Bombardier and 20 by Airbus. The European manufacturer hasn’t unveiled its 2019 targets.
Airbus, which may offer the plane in a 160-seat configuration, has 537 orders for 19 clients.
In an interview with Presse Canadienne, Balducchi said it would take two to three years to significantly reduce the program’s cost.
“Is it fast enough? It’s never fast enough,” he said. “We’re not late but we aren’t ahead either. I’d say we’re on track.”
In the meantime, the conglomerate of Airbus, Bombardier and the Quebec government confirmed a US$30 million investment this spring to add hangars to house the aircraft.
Simon Jacques, head of Canadian operations for the multinational, mentioned the possibility Monday that Quebec will host a fighter plane assembly line and satellite construction plant if Airbus manages to win federal contracts in Canada.
A call for tenders for 88 new fighter planes is expected from Ottawa before the start of the 2019 election campaign in a bid to replace the government’s aging CF-18s. Airbus makes the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Saab are all in the running alongside Airbus for the federal contract.
Jacques said the construction of a new assembly line would not pose a logistical challenge given the extra space at the Mirabel plant.
He stressed the need for a “Canadian solution,” given that the call for tenders would include local content requirements.
According to Jacques, Canada is “really committed” to “stimulating competition,” which may open a door to a manufacturer other than the U.S.-based Boeing.
Airbus executives also said they may turn to Quebec for satellite construction if its proposal is accepted up by Telesat Canada, a satellite operator.
The company had solicited offers from Airbus and the France-based Thales Group as part of an Internet service project tied to the launch of “between 300 and 500 satellites,” Jacques said.
9 January 2019, Delta Air Lines has ordered 15 additional A220 aircraft, bringing to 90 the total of the new generation, highly fuel-efficient jetliners the world’s second-largest airline has on order. The additional orders are the airline’s first for the -300 model. Delta also converted earlier A220 orders to the larger -300, bringing to 50 the number of A220-300s on order.
“These additional A220 aircraft will continue to strategically enable Delta to refresh our fleet, drive further advances in the customer experience and serve as an excellent investment for our customers, employees and shareowners for Delta into the next decade,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer. “We look forward to taking our first A220-300 in 2020 at the Airbus assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama.”
Delta placed its initial order for 75 aircraft in 2016. Airbus will produce the A220-300s at a new U.S. assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama. Construction of the plant, to be located adjacent to the existing Airbus A320 assembly facility, will begin later in January.
“Delta has always been deeply focused on the passenger experience, and the A220 fits perfectly with that philosophy,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer. “You just need to take a look at Delta’s cabin on the A220 to see it’s setting a new standard in short-haul flying. The A220 will provide passengers with a level of comfort and convenience that makes flying a pleasure again, while meeting Delta’s high standards for efficiency and reliability.”
The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market; it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and true widebody comfort in a single-aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. With a range of up to 3,200 nm (5920 km), the A220 offers the performance of larger single-aisle aircraft.
With an order book of more than 500 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.
Delta Air Lines‘ long-running quest to begin Airbus A220 flights may face another hurdle – this one due to the ongoing shutdown of the US federal government.
The Atlanta-based carrier – the first US airline to acquire the A220 – has planned to place the type into revenue service on 31 January with flights from New York LaGuardia airport to Boston and Dallas-Fort Worth.
But the US budgetary standoff – which is about to enter a third week – has shuttered large swaths of the US government.
The Federal Aviation Administration already certified the A220 itself (those approvals came in 2016), but carriers cannot operate new aircraft types until the agency concludes an operational review and adds those types to airlines’ operating certificates, insiders note.
FAA units tasked with that work, however, are not currently on the job, they say.
The process can be lengthy even when the government is open, and sometimes wraps up only shortly before an aircraft is scheduled enter service, says John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member who now helps aircraft operators navigate the process of placing new aircraft types into service.
The degree to which Delta has completed final certification work remains unknown, and the airline declines to answer questions about A220 certification.
However, Delta insists the government shutdown will not affect its schedules.
“Delta continues to monitor the situation and will work with the FAA to ensure that the A220 is fully certified when it enters our fleet,” Delta tells FlightGlobal. “No customer disruption or impact to schedules are expected.”
The still-shuttered FAA did not respond to questions from FlightGlobal.
The FAA’s process of adding aircraft types to operating certificates involves a review of a carrier’s ability to operate the type safety. Inspectors ensure pilots have completed approved training programmes and that airlines have adequate maintenance support, Goglia says. The FAA also ensures the aircraft carry all required safety equipment.
Though much paperwork is involved, the process culminates with a physical aircraft inspection by FAA officials, he says. They “open everything up and spot check” to ensure the aircraft meets the FAA’s requirements.
Delta has already faced a lengthy fight in its quest to become the first US carrier to operate the A220, which had been owned by Bombardier and called the CSeries until Airbus acquire the programme last year.
Delta ordered 75 A220-100s in April 2016. In 2017, it rallied behind Bombardier when that company’s rival Boeing filed a trade dispute with the US Department of Commerce.
Boeing claimed Bombardier received improper government subsidies, then sold A220s to Delta at artificially-low prices, violating US trade law by harming sales of 737-700s and 737 Max 7. The case effectively threatened to shut down Bombardier’s ability to export the aircraft to the USA.
Bombardier, with Delta‘s support, won the case after a protracted fight when the US International Trade Commission ruled that Boeing’s larger jets do not compete directly with A220s.
Delta received its first A220 in October 2018 and now has four aircraft in its fleet, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.
In addition to the initial LaGuardia-Boston and LaGuardia-Dallas routes, Delta has said it will deploy A220s by this summer to Detroit, Houston and Salt Lake City.
The US government shut down on 22 December when lawmakers failed to agree on a funding bill due largely to disagreement over money earmarked for construction of a barrier along the US-Mexico border.
When Airbus took control of the twinjet programme – previously known as the CSeries – in July 2018, it disclosed that JetBlue had signed a memorandum of understanding that covered firm orders for 60 A220-300s. The US airline also indicated that it had taken options on a further 60. The A220s will replace JetBlue‘s fleet of 60 Embraer 190s.
Airbus now says the order for 60 aircraft was finalised in late December.
JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes states: “The impressive range and economics of the highly efficient A220… will help ensure we deliver the best onboard experience to customers and meet our long-term financial targets as we continue disciplined growth into the future.”
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that JetBlue‘s fleet is comprised of 130 A320s, 63 A321s and 60 E190s.
The airline has 85 A321neos on orders.
Deliveries of JetBlue‘s A220s – from Airbus’s planned US assembly line in Mobile – are scheduled to begin in 2020, the airframer has previously said.