How A220 programme proved sound investment for Airbus amid pandemic

From Flight Global – link to source story

By David Kaminski-Morrow | 22 July 2021

One curious effect of the air transport crisis is that it has effectively pushed the sector back in time, leaving a fleet technologically shaped to address the 2020s facing levels of demand from the turn of the millennium.

“This industry, in a matter of a year, has lost something like 15 – if not more – years of growth,” says Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer.

A220-300 A321LR
Source: S Ramadier/Airbus

Airbus says successful A220 complements A320neo family

Activity level might be back to that which existed when the Airbus A318 was entering service and the A319 was reaching peak deliveries. But Scherer believes the airframer’s ability to pitch the 100- and 130-seat sectors with the A220 – an aircraft which was still an unlaunched Bombardier concept, the CSeries, at the time – will prove an advantage during the recovery of the single-aisle market.

“We had a very timid attempt in the past with the A318 in this category,” says Scherer. “But we now have a family of products with A220-100 and -300 that clearly addresses the upper regional segment where Airbus wasn’t really present before.”

Neither the A318 nor rival Boeing’s answer, the 737-600, sold more than 70-80 aircraft and the lower end of the single-aisle battleground has since become even tougher.

When Airbus opted to re-engine its popular A319, it believed the updated aircraft would continue its predecessor’s run of success while consigning the CSeries, then a prospective competitor, to the status of also-ran.

But while the A319 and the 737-700 each managed to secure close to 1,500 orders, neither of their re-engined counterparts – the A319neo and 737 Max 7 – has been able to replicate these figures. The CSeries, however, took over 400 orders under Bombardier and Airbus has added another 337 gross orders in the three years since acquiring the programme, now the A220, in mid-2018.

CRISIS MANAGED

Scherer believes the A220 hands Airbus an advantage in the current circumstances. While Airbus cut production rates of other aircraft in its portfolio, he points out, there was no such reduction for the A220 – the airframer only “adapted slightly downward the positive slope” for the type’s ramp-up.

Airbus vice-president of programmes Philippe Mhun says the A220 was the “most active fleet in its segment during the crisis”, claiming that a minimum 50% of delivered aircraft were still being operated at the lowest point, before the figure “very quickly” recovered to higher levels.

Carriers such as Air Canada, Delta Air Lines and Swiss were operating almost all their A220s by June, while keeping substantial numbers of A320-family jets parked.

The airframer plans to increase combined monthly A220 output from its Montreal Mirabel and Mobile, Alabama assembly lines from five to six aircraft in early 2022, and its aim is for 14 by around mid-decade.

“Our order book is pretty full, we have no issue in terms of open slots,” says Mhun.

Although longer-range single-aisle aircraft have been able to encroach on routes traditionally plied by twin-aisle types, the use of smaller aircraft on such routes carries a potential comfort penalty, requiring carriers to adapt single-aisle types to feature interior configurations suitable for longer-duration flights.

Radical interior reconfiguration is less of a consideration at the regional end of the scale, but Airbus believes the basic A220 already provides advantages by offering a tailored five-abreast aircraft rather than further stretches of narrow four-abreast regional jets or inefficient shrinks of larger six-abreast models.

“It’s absolutely the reference in cabin comfort,” says Scherer.

He believes that, although the A220 has “marginally higher” trip costs than its “direct competitor”, by virtue of being 20-30 seats larger, customers will favour the range advantage and increased revenue generation potential.

“It clearly commands a value premium in the market,” he says.

But it also shifts the competitive arena, pitching Airbus more directly against Embraer at a point where the Brazilian airframer remains without a strong partner after its proposed tie-up with Boeing suddenly collapsed last year.

THINKING BIG

Over the last three years – a period in which the Embraer E195-E2 and E190-E2 have entered service – the A220’s net orders, under Airbus, have risen by over 60%, while its backlog has increased by a third to nearly 500 aircraft. Customers have strongly backed the larger -300 over the -100, and a similar pattern has emerged at Embraer, where the E195-E2 has sold better than the E190-E2. Embraer’s E2 backlog stood at 139 at the end of March.

A220 JetBlue
Source: Airbus

JetBlue says the A220 has 30% better cost-efficiency per seat than the E190

New customer JetBlue Airways is taking the A220 to replace its older E190s. Chief financial officer Steve Priest says the carrier is “particularly excited about the outstanding economics”, giving a figure of 30% better cost-efficiency per seat over the regional jet.

“We believe this fleet will be pivotal to helping us reshape our cost structure and growing our margins,” he adds.

Lufthansa Group carrier Swiss was the launch operator of the A220 during its period as the CSeries, and has built a fleet of 30 including both the -100 and -300 variants. The aircraft has the range to integrate smoothly with its A320 fleet, offering economical capacity options.

“We use our A220 and A320-family aircraft very flexibly on the entire short-haul network, according to demand, with very few exceptions for operational reasons,” the carrier states, pointing out that the A220 is necessary for Swiss to access specific airports such as London City and Florence.

Scherer claims Chinese interest in the A220 from operators in regions “outside of the mainstream” routes, while the type has attracted interest from executive and premium operators interested in exploiting the long-range potential of low-density cabins.

Although Airbus has been enhancing the performance of the A220, with hikes in maximum take-off weight, it views the A220 and A320 families as separate products. Scherer says the lack of full commonality between the two types has “not proven to be a major handicap” and points out that there is “no such commonality” between upper-size regional jets and mid-size single-aisle aircraft.

“There are no plans to revamp or change the value proposition of the A220 or A320 to construct a common cockpit,” he says. “That’s not to say they won’t converge over time, but there are no hard plans.”

Airbus joins Canada’s SAF+ Consortium to accelerate the development of a new Sustainable Aviation Fuel technology

 #SAF #Decarbonisation #Canada

Toulouse, 15th July 2021– Airbus and the Montreal, Canada-based SAF+ Consortium have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate with major Canadian aviation industry players on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) development and production in North America. Airbus will be investing through “in-kind” contributions, which consist of technical and certification expertise, economic analysis, communications and advocacy.

Today’s announcement marks the launch of a new Canadian ecosystem dedicated to stimulating the production of SAF and connecting Airbus with prominent Canadian actors spanning the entire aviation value chain to develop a concrete solution that will make low-carbon flying a reality.

The aviation sector is a global industry and while momentum for SAF is growing, particularly in Europe, investment in SAF’s worldwide development is of equal importance to enable the entire sector to achieve significant CO2 emissions reductions around the globe.

“Airbus, alongside many of its customers, is more than convinced the use of SAF is an essential pillar to support the aviation industry’s decarbonisation journey,” says Steven Le Moing, Airbus New Energy Programme Manager. “Building this new Canadian ecosystem alongside the SAF+ Consortium is a key milestone as we continue to push to reach our global 2050 CO2 emissions-reduction targets. This partnership is a perfect example of how Airbus is actively shaping decarbonisation discussions in North America, while demonstrating our commitment to making SAF an economically viable solution available to our customers.”

“SAF+ aims to be a pioneer in the field of SAF, and with the support of visionary partners such as Airbus, we will create a competitive company, able to offer one of the many technological solutions needed to decarbonise the aviation industry,” says Jean Paquin, President and CEO of the SAF+ Consortium.

The SAF+ Consortium brings together a number of key Quebec-based aerospace companies and research institutions, such as Air Transat, Hydro-Quebec, Aéroports de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and Aéro Montréal.

The SAF+ Consortium’s goal is to transform Montreal into a sustainable aviation hub in North America through the construction and subsequent operation of a pilot SAF production plant. Situated close to Montreal, this pilot plant will produce a type of SAF known as Power-to-Liquid (PtL), which is an e-fuel consisting of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) synthesised with renewable (green) hydrogen. The process involves capturing CO2 from large industrial emitters and converting it into an alternative fuel. It is estimated that the fuel produced by SAF+ will have an 80% lower carbon footprint compared to conventional jet fuel. The Consortium builds on Air Transat’s commitment to purchase a significant portion
of the future SAF produced at the plant for its all-Airbus fleet.

SAF+ intends to produce SAF as early as the second half of 2021 at its first pilot plant. A commercial project of 30 million liters is planned for 2025.

About Airbus

Airbus pioneers sustainable aerospace for a safe and united world. The Company constantly innovates to provide efficient and technologically advanced solutions in aerospace, defence, and connected services. In commercial aircraft, Airbus offers modern and fuel-efficient airliners and associated services. Airbus is also a European leader in defence and security and one of the world’s leading space businesses. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions and services worldwide.

Airbus has an important footprint in Canada, which is home to the A220 programme. Active in several regions of Canada, Airbus has close to 4,000 employees across the country and more than 23,000 indirect jobs in the aeronautics sector are supported through various collaborations. Airbus works with around 665 suppliers in nine provinces. All Airbus businesses are present in Canada with commercial planes (the A220 programme) in Mirabel, QC, helicopters in Fort Erie, ON and Defence and Space in Ottawa, ON. The wholly owned subsidiaries of Airbus, STELIA Aerospace and NAVBLUE also have installations in the country

About SAF+

SAF+ is a group of Quebec companies working in the field of sustainable fuel production from carbon capture using green hydrogen produced in Quebec. Aiming at producing sustainable fuel for the aviation sector by 2021, the development of a commercial SAF project by 2025, located in the east end of Montreal, will consist of recovering COemissions from industry and transforming them into a clean synthetic fuel with a carbon footprint 80% smaller than traditional aviation fuel.

Analysis: Canadian aero suppliers face labor crunch as travel rebounds

From Reuters – link to source story

Allison Lampert | 28 June 2021

MONTREAL, June 28 (Reuters) – Canadian aerospace firms are struggling to hire back workers to meet resurgent travel demand in the latest evidence of a post-pandemic labor crunch, industry executives said.

The squeeze has emerged as a warning signal for aviation’s recovery internationally and accelerates a shift in the workforce toward fast-growth sectors like electric vehicles, they said.

An Airbus A220-300 is seen at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
An Airbus A220-300 is seen at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

As suppliers in the aerospace-making hub of Quebec return to hiring mode, several interviewed by Reuters said they feared the exodus of talent could get more acute with an aging workforce and some training programs facing lower enrollment.

“Some companies are growing faster, others slower. But everyone is looking for workers,” said Suzanne Benoit, president of Quebec aerospace trade group Aéro Montreal.

An employee works on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
An employee works on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Canada’s flagship business-jet maker Bombardier (BBDb.TO) is experiencing a “competitive job market” as it goes back to recruiting, a spokeswoman said.

Aerospace joins a list of sectors facing challenges to adjust to the sudden revving up of the North American economy.

In the United States, statistics showing lower employment in manufacturing have raised concerns about supply constraints.

And in Canada, where lockdowns stayed in place longer, economists are predicting a rush of hiring in June.

Demand could push wages up for workers in popular categories like machinists, although some suppliers are also recruiting skilled immigrants from Mexico, Tunisia and Morocco.

Employees work on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Employees work on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Montreal, the world’s third-largest aerospace center, fears a delay in its economic recovery if jobs can’t be filled.

“The risk … is that we won’t have enough workers to carry out contracts so we will have to refuse contracts,” Benoit said.

Nancy Venneman, president of engineering firm Altitude Aerospace Canada, said pressure could pile up further in the fall when customer projects likeproduct upgrades and aircraft modifications delayed by the pandemic return.

Aerospace was one of the world industries worst-hit by the pandemic as traffic plummeted in 2020, grounding fleets. But it has set ambitious plans to restore output in coming years.

Aerospace and defense companies announced 115,089 job cuts for the U.S. market from March 2020 to May 2021, compared with 18,337 announced in 2018 and 2019 combined, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

SECTOR COMPETITION

Mario Sévigny, co-founder of MSB Group, which produces components for private jetmakers like Bombardier and General Dynamics Corp’s (GD.N) Gulfstream, said it would take six to nine months to meet a potential production increase due to scarce labor.

While a Canadian program protected some jobs by defraying part of workers’ salaries, it didn’t cover the entire amount which led to layoffs. Some local employers like a unit of Airbus criticized the level of support from Ottawa. read more

The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), which accounts for over 95% of aerospace activity in Canada, said more than half its members had to lay off employees.

Aerospace is, meanwhile, competing for young workers with fast-rising industries like electric transport.

The average age of an aerospace manufacturing worker in Canada is 54, according to AIAC.

The École nationale d’aérotechnique, Quebec’s largest aeronautics college which offers training in fields like aviation maintenance, said registrations in its three-year programs aimed largely at recent high school graduates dropped 20% for the fall 2021 session.

While aerospace has faced previous crises, the duration of COVID-19’s impact has driven workers elsewhere, Benoit said.

Some went to transport companies that make electric buses, like fast-growing Lion Electric Co (LEV.TO) and Nova Bus, a division of Sweden’s Volvo Group (VOLVb.ST).

Hugue Meloche, chief executive of components maker Meloche Group which supplies the locally-produced Airbus A220 jet, needs to hire about 70 people a year over five years.

“We are losing a lot of workers who are going to other sectors that weren’t affected by the pandemic,” he said.Reporting

By Allison Lampert in Montreal Editing by Nick Zieminski

Air Canada’s Fleet In 2021

From Simple Flying – link to source story

As Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada has a diverse fleet based across its four hub airports. The network airline has a mix of both widebody and narrowbody aircraft coming from both Airbus and Boeing. The carrier has gone through some changes in the past few years, with more significant upheaval taking place during the global health crisis. Let’s take a look at Air Canada’s fleet as it stands in 2021.

The Boeing 787 is Air Canada’s flagship aircraft. Photo: Air Canada

Air Canada’s fleet composition

According to data from Planespotters.net, Air Canada has the following aircraft in its fleet. The quantities are noted in parentheses.

Aircraft from Airbus*:
  • A220-300 (22)
  • A320 (18)
  • A321 (15)
  • A330-300 (16)

*We should note that the airline ordered the A220 when it was still known as the Bombardier CSeries.

Aircraft from Boeing:
  • 737 MAX 8 (24)
  • 777-200LR (6)
  • 777-300ER (19)
  • 787-8 (8)
  • 787-9 (29)
The average age of Air Canada’s A330-300s is 16 years. Photo: Air Canada

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Outside of regular passenger service

There are aircraft within the Air Canada fleet that are outside of the airline’s passenger operations.

Notably, we have the airline’s private/charter subbrand, Air Canada Jetz. This sub-group consists of four Airbus A319s. This fleet traditionally consisted of three A319s, but it appears a fourth was added in December 2020.

Used to transport touring musicians, sports teams, or private groups, these aircraft have an all-business configuration of 58 seats. With the exception of a short pandemic run, these aircraft tend to stay out of Air Canada’s regular passenger operations.

The Jetz jets flew an all-business-class service during the Winter of 2020 but are typically reserved for special charter operations. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons 

As we will mention further in this article, Air Canada retired its 767s at the start of the health crisis. However, some of these are slated for a full conversion to freighters. The airline says that two freighters are expected to be in service in time for this year’s fourth-quarter peak airfreight season.

With seven 767s on the list for conversion, it looks like the remaining five will be converted next year, in 2022. This was confirmed by the carrier’s current Chief Financial Officer and future Chief Executive during the earnings call in which Simple Flying attended:

“We’d love to have all seven up and operating by the end of next year. These are typically little bit of a longer process and slots are not really available, but we are certainly working on having all seven up and running by Q4 of next year.” – Michael Rousseau, Chief Executive Officer, Air Canada

Coming and going

On the outgoing side of things, it was in May 2020 that Air Canada announced the early retirement of 79 aircraft. 

Retirements included five 767-300ERs, 16 A319s, and 14 E190s in the mainline fleet. Another 25 767-300ERs and 22 A319s that made up Air Canada Rouge were also retired.

Air Canada took delivery of its first A220 back in January 2020. Photo: Air Canada

Looking at future aircraft, Air Canada has a decent number of Boeing 737 MAX 8s and Airbus A220-300s yet to be delivered. There was a little bit of a back-and-forth when the carrier announced it would be canceling some of its orders last November. The plan would have seen the airline cancel orders for 12 A220s and 10 737 MAX 8s.

However, one condition of the carrier’s government rescue package was that it would proceed with its planned orders for both aircraft types. As it stands, 16 737 MAX 8s and 23 A220-300s are still on the way.

As you can see from the list of aircraft, Air Canada has a fairly diverse fleet- which is quite typical of a large network carrier that operates both short-haul and intercontinental service.

Take a look at the new A220 full size cabin display from Airbus…..

From Air101 – link to source story and video

28 May 2021 | Written by Jason Shaw 

One United Family

This week, the Airspace Customer Showroom (ACS) situated in Toulouse, France unveiled its latest A220 full size mock-up, showcasing Airbus’ cabin expertise inside this unique customer showroom.

“Today marks an important development in the ongoing career of the A220 as a member of the Airbus family, all together in the Airspace Customer Showroom. We are looking forward to showing the A220 mockup to our customers who are already extremely enthusiastic to visit,” said Christine de Gagné, Airline Marketing

Link to Airbus Video

Moving forward

Seven years after its maiden flight, the first flight test vehicle “FTV1” has been rehabilitated by Airbus teams to become part of an iconic showcase; celebrating the successes of the A220 as part of the family.  “FTV1” was the very first aircraft assembled in Mirabel between 2012-2013 and released into service after some 760 flight hours on the clock, opening another historic chapter for this aircraft.

The layout of the mock-up

The interior layout of the A220 cabin was an exciting challenge for the Airbus teams to make it alluring for customers. “In a ground mock-up, the cabin interior must be adaptive and versatile. We need to think about the cabin configuration features, such as light and ambience, enabling customers to experiment with different inspiring scenarios for passengers” explains Christine. 

The mock-up will also be of great importance to both customers who have already selected the A220 and for Airbus teams dedicated to customizing the cabin. Airlines who are in the final configuration phase of their aircraft, will be able to test their lighting and seat selection in the mock-up before the delivery of their aircraft.

Ready to welcome customers

Fully operational, the A220 mock-up will be able to benefit from the expertise of the Airspace Customer Showroom to support the airline’s needs. Every year, the facility  hosts around 1000 visits – an average of 250 meetings with airlines, providing a powerful tool to assist customers, accelerate decision-making and demonstrate cabin innovations offered by the A220 within the Airbus family.

Airbus welcomes first ACJ TwoTwenty section in Mirabel / Canada

Mirabel, 17 May 2021 – The first section of the recently launched ACJ TwoTwenty has arrived at the A220 Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Mirabel, Canada, in line with the planning. This mid-fuselage section arrival marks the start of the first Airbus corporate jet ever assembled in Canada. 

The ACJ TwoTwenty is the combination of a signature flexible cabin catalogue outfitted into a modern, reliable and cost efficient A220-100, designed for state-of-the-art business aviation jet operations.

The ACJ TwoTwenty comes with renowned ACJ DNA: ultimate comfort, intercontinental range, unbeatable economics with unmatched operational availability.

The ACJ TwoTwenty was launched in late 2020 and has already won orders for six aircraft. Comlux will be the first to take delivery of the ACJ TwoTwenty this winter and will be the exclusive outfitter for the first 15 aircraft.

The ACJ TwoTwenty will feature unmatched personal space with 73m2/785 ft2 of floorspace, and is the only business jet featuring six wide VIP living areas for up to 19 passengers. The ACJ TwoTwenty will have intercontinental range, capable of flying up to 5,650 nm/10,500 km (over 12 flight hours) and is at a price tag just under the Ultra Long Range bizjet price.

More than 200 Airbus corporate jets are in service on every continent, including Antarctica, highlighting their operational versatility, including in challenging environments. 

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) offers the most modern and comprehensive corporate jet family in the world, giving customers the greatest choice of unique, customisable and spacious cabins, allowing them to select the comfort they want in the size they need – offering them a unique flying experience.

AIRBALTIC’S 26TH A220-300 JET

From Travel Radar – link to source story

By Claudia Mok  | May 12, 2021

First out of seven of their planned deliveries, AirBaltic welcomed its 26th airbus A220-300 jet, registered as YL-AAZ in Riga on 2 May – with an aim to acquire a total of 32 by the end of 2021.

This comes after they publicised their plan to expand their fleet. Since May last year, AB has operated all its flights with a single aircraft type, that is the A220-300, an air bus that is becoming AB’s unique selling proposition.

AirBaltic YL-AAZ side profile from right

[AirBaltic’s YL-AAZ Side Profile] |© [AirBaltic]

AirBaltic's YL-AAZ wing from left

[AirBaltic YL-AAZ Wing] |© [AirBaltic]

Best of Both Worlds

Founded 28 August 1995, AirBaltic (AB) has worked hard at finding a gap in the market for its airline. They not only work as a hybrid airline by combining practices from traditional network airlines and low-cost carriers, but also one that aims to become Europe’s most sustainable carrier. The Airbus A220-300 gives them that opportunity.

Saving whilst Sustaining

The A220-300 is the greenest commercial aircraft available. Its advanced aerodynamics combined with specially designed Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW15OOG geared turbofan engines contribute to an aircraft that delivers 25% lower fuel burn than previous generation aircraft – in turn helping reduce not only the Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide emissions by 20% and 50% respectively, but also operational costs.

The previous generation model infers the A220-100 which burns 21,805 litres of fuel compared to the A220-300 which burns 300 litres less, that is 21,508 litres of fuel. The former also has a smaller capacity holding 135 passengers compared to the latter which holds 160.

AB’s fleet used to include Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 and Bombardier aircrafts DHQ400 and Dash 8 Q400 (now known as De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400) yet with a change to their business proposition, they started to phase each of them out, reporting that they began to reduce the number of Boeing 737s in 2019 to end in 2020, an aircraft that burns approximately 5,000 pounds of fuel per hour, compared to the A220 that averages 3,500 pounds per hour.

A single aircraft fleet not only makes Latvia’s flagship carrier unique, savvy and sustainable but it also plays into the growing concerns of key stakeholders and the public at large in relation to climate change.

AirBaltic's Sustainability report 2019 - key points

[AirBaltic’s Sustainability report 2019] | © [AirBaltic]

They have also worked at reducing household and mixed packaging waste (cardboard, paper, plastic) by reducing the use of them  – including opting for electronic document use and iPads for pilots.

AirBaltic's Sustainability report 2019 - household and packaging waste

[AirBaltic’s Sustainability report 2019] |© [AirBaltic]

Delta, another eco-friendly airline is also in pursuit of the A220 dream. Since the pandemic started, they have resorted to reducing the Boeing 717 models and have also placed an order for a batch of A220 models (45 A220-100s and 50 A220-300s) for 2021, suggesting that the A220 paves the way for fuel and cost efficiency.

Airbus appoints supply chain executive to run its Canadian operation, trim losses on A220

From The Globe and Mail – link to source story

TIM HEPHER, REUTERS, | MAY 10, 2021

An employee works on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Que. on Feb. 20, 2020. CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

Airbus has appointed a senior internal supply chain executive to run its Canadian operation, with responsibility for trimming losses on the A220 jetliner series, in the latest in a series of management changes at the European aerospace group.

Benoit Schultz, 48, will take over on Sept. 1 from Philippe Balducchi, a former finance executive who became the first head of the Canadian venture when Airbus bought the CSeries jet program from Bombardier in 2018 and renamed it A220.

Schultz, who was part of the team that ran a ruler over Bombardier’s supplier relationships when Airbus rescued it from cash shortages, is currently a senior vice president in the Airbus procurement office, which runs its global supply chain.

He steps up as Balducchi plans to “pursue opportunities” outside the group after integrating the former Bombardier plants into Airbus and opening a new U.S. assembly line, Airbus said.

The Canadian-designed A220, with 110-130 seats and a modern lightweight design, has seen a boost in sales under Airbus after its development took a heavy financial toll that triggered Bombardier’s near-total exit from the aerospace market.

It has notched up more net orders so far this year than any other Airbus model as airlines seek to reduce fuel costs and favour smaller aircraft in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

But while sales have benefited from the stronger Airbus marketing machine, industry sources say the European group has yet to secure low enough prices for many of the plane’s components to push the A220 project convincingly into the black.

That creates a growing dilemma for Airbus as although new sales are good for the order book, producing those extra planes at costs that remain too high could simply deepen the losses.

Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury has been seeking cuts of 20% in the cost of major components, industry sources say.

One source said Airbus had obtained solid cuts from dominant suppliers Raytheon Technologies – which makes engines and avionics – and wingmaker Spirit Aero Systems but was still struggling to make a significant dent in most other costs.

Airbus could further reduce costs by redesigning parts and overhauling the production system for the A220, which competes with Embraer regional jets and smaller Boeing 737s, but such spending is seen unlikely during the pandemic.

Airbus had no immediate comment on cost-cutting efforts.

Air Canada Eyes The A321LR As More A220s Set To Be Delivered

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Jake Hardiman | May 7, 2021

While Air Canada does fly the Boeing 737 MAX series, most of its narrowbody aircraft belong to Airbus families. These include the five-abreast A220 series, of which the airline is set to receive a further 15 examples by the end of 2022. Interestingly, the Canadian flag carrier has also revealed an interest in Airbus’s long-range A321LR model.

Air Canada Airbus A220
The A220 has become popular among Air Canada’s passengers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Four A220s delivered in Q1

Air Canada announced today at its first-quarter earnings call that it has continued its short-haul fleet modernization despite the industry’s present challenges. The Airbus A220 is leading the way in this regeneration, with Air Canada favoring the A220-300 variant.

This next-generation narrowbody has won favor among both employees and passengers for its enhanced efficiency and comfort levels. According to Planespotters.net, Air Canada presently has 19 137-seat A220-300s in its fleet, of which 17 are active. Of these, more than 20% arrived in Q1 of 2021. Indeed, the airline confirmed on the aforementioned call that “we took delivery of four Airbus A220 aircraft in the first quarter.”

Air Canada TCA A220 Retrojet
C-GNBN sports a stunning retro TCA livery. Photo: Air Canada

These four first-quarter arrivals came in the form of the following aircraft.

Next 15 deliveries also secured

The introduction of the A220 has played a significant role in the regeneration of Air Canada’s short-haul fleet. The type will replace its remaining A319s, which have an average age of 24 years. Amid the pandemic, it has not been unusual to see carriers defer orders. However, regarding its remaining A220s, the airline confirmed that:Advertisement:

“In March 2021, Air Canada concluded a committed secured facility totaling US$475 million to finance the purchase of the next 15 Airbus A220 aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2021 and 2022.”

Air Canada A220
Air Canada will receive its remaining A220s by the end of 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Potentially a place for the A321LR as well

In the longer term, Air Canada will be hoping that it can resume its longer-haul services to transatlantic destinations such as the UK and mainland Europe. However, ongoing uncertainty remains regarding different countries’ restrictions and vaccination rates.

As such, it may not see the demand levels that it had become accustomed to before coronavirus. With this in mind, the airline is open to trying new aircraft types in order to adapt to market fluctuations. For example, it stated that:Advertisement:

We’ve done a pretty good job covering ourselves for growth beyond our expectations, but certainly also for even further fine tuning. (…) That gives us the opportunity to then potentially step into new types of aircraft. Like the A321LRs, for example, that we like, and that certainly have a potential place in Air Canada’s fleet as we go forward.

Air Transat Airbus A321
Air Transat operates both first-generation (pictured) and ‘neo’ variants of the A321, including the latter’s ‘LR’ version. Will Air Canada follow suit in this respect?  Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Of course, the carrier would not be the first Canadian airline to deploy this long-range version of the Airbus A321neo series. Indeed, Air Transat, whose merger with Air Canada was recently canceled, has operated the type since 2019. Last October, Air Transat even set the record for the world’s longest flight using the aircraft.

This saw it fly non-stop from Montréal, Canada to Athens, Greece. This represented an impressive distance of 7,600 km (4,100 NM), although it has since been beaten by Azores Airlines. Nonetheless, with the aircraft being an ideal fit for ‘long thin’ transatlantic markets, Air Canada’s interest is understandable. 

What Happened To Air Canada’s Airbus A340-600 Order?

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Sumit Singh, Deputy Editor | May 2, 2021

At the Paris Air Show in June 1997, Airbus shared details about its Airbus A340-600 motives. Amid the excitement, it didn’t take long for Air Canada to order the plane. It was one of the first airlines to place an order for the variant, but it would cancel the deal approximately a decade later.

A340-600 Plane Silhouette
The Airbus A340-600 is increasingly becoming a rare sight. Photo: Getty Images

Grand prospects

During its reveal, the A340-600 was highlighted to transport up to 378 passengers, which was a significant figure as it was only 25 fewer than many variants of the Boeing 747. Air Canada was keen to take on new widebodies that year, ordering eight new A330s and A340s. These planes had a list price of $1.4 billion at the time, which is a figure approximate to $2.1 billion today.

According to The New York Times, the flag carrier of Canada had an option to take on extra planes, starting with five units split between A340-600s and A340-500. It also had options to acquire 10 additional planes from 2002.

Industry woes

A FlightGlobal report from July 2008 shares that Air Canada initially deferred the delivery of three -600s to 2004. This deferral was then extended to 2010. However, the carrier ended up canceling the whole order.

Notably, the 9/11 attacks shook up the aviation industry across the world. Even though the overall financial impact isn’t as considerable compared with the current crisis, for its time, the situation was tough, and numerous airlines struggled. Due to the challenges that carriers faced, there were several fleet reshuffles and strategy changes.Advertisement:

An Air Canada A340 aircraft
Despite not taking on the -600, Air Canada had 15 other A340 variants within its fleet, first joining the firm in 1995. Photo: Getty Images

Air Canada’s approach shift can be noticed with its wider fleet. Several aircraft types had left the carrier in the years after 9/11. The McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and Bombardier CRJ100 were phased out of mainline operations in 2002. After that, Boeing 737-200 747-400, and 747-200M and Fokker F28 Fellowship left in 2004. Moreover, the 767-200 left in 2008.

Most notably, Air Canada’s other A340 variants were also let go during this period. According to Planespotters.net, the A340-300 stopped service for the airline in November 2008. Two A340-500s also joined the company in the summer of 2004. However, both C-GKOL and C-GKOM left for Brazil’s TAM three years later, in November 2007.Advertisement:

A good call

Looking back, the decision to cancel the A340-600 was the right one. Gargantuan quadjets swiftly struggled to find a consistent place in aviation in the 2010s. Thus, several carriers have been rapidly phasing out the likes of the A340, A380, and 747 in preference of modern, twinjet options.

Virgin A340-600
Virgin Atlantic retired its final A340-600s in March 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

Today, most of the airlines that took on the A340-600 no longer operate the plane. Now, only a handful of major airlines fly it. Looking at Air Canada’s fleet strategy in recent years, the carrier may have found itself also retiring the aircraft sooner than later.