Airbus has firmed up orders for 120 A220 aircraft, including 60 for the new airline venture involving JetBlue founder David Neeleman.
The new Neeleman venture, currently code-named Moxy but unlikely to retain the moniker, was unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow in July.
The aviation entrepreneur – who was also involved in the start of Canada’s WestJet, founded Brazil’s Azul Airlines and has been a major force in TAP Air Portugal’s revitalization – has also ordered the bigger A220-300s and expects to receive his first aircraft in 2021.
He told Conde Nast Traveler recently he was starting the new airline because he saw an opportunity “to build a better mousetrap” due to consolidation of the industry in the US.
He said US airlines had again become hub focused and there were many cities not accessible via non-stop services where there was an opportunity “to get people there twice as fast at half the price”.
He also plans to build technology aimed at offering superior customer service and flexibility.
He sees the A220, formally the Bombardier C Series, as offering maximum flexibility in terms of offering the opportunity to introduce a premium cabin as well as the ability to reach destinations such as Hawaii, Brazil and Portugal from the US Midwest.
“The A220-300 is the right airplane for a new airline that will be focused on passenger service and satisfaction,” Neeleman said in A220 order announcement.
“With a low cost of operation and spacious cabin, the A220 will allow us to provide passengers with lower fares and a high quality, comfortable flying experience.
“The A220’s ability to operate profitably in thin, underserved markets across a broad spectrum of ranges is unique”.
Airbus will produce the planes at a new US assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, construction of which will begin in January 2019.
JetBlue also confirmed an order announced in July for 60 A220s to add to its fleet of A320s and A321s.
JetBlue’s planes will also be produced in the Alabama facility and are in addition to 85 A21neos the airline currently has on order. The US carrier now has 193 A320 and A321 aircraft.
“As we approach our 20th anniversary, the impressive range and economics of the highly efficient A220, combined with the outstanding performance of our existing fleet of Airbus A321 and restyled A320 aircraft, 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,” JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes said in the announcement.
The fuel-efficient 100- to 150-seater now has orders for more than 500 aircraft.