AIRBUS REVEALS REUNION’S AIR AUSTRAL AS NEW A220 CUSTOMER
(Posted 14th October 2019)
Only days after it became known that Czech Airlines has signed up for four Airbus A220-300 aircraft did Reunion based French airline Air Austral also put pen to paper after reaching a decision over which aircraft would fit best for their upcoming fleet renewal for short and medium haul flights. Delivery of the ordered aircraft will start as of November 2020 and should be complete by March 2021. The three aircraft will be configured in a dual class cabin layout with 12 business class seats (2×1) and 120 economy class seats (3×2).
The airline presently operates two Boeing B737-800NG aircraft to serve such routes as Johannesburg, Mauritius and Madagascar and an ATR72-500, all of which are to leave their fleet once the A220’s have been delivered.
Meanwhile has the Ethiopian Airlines CEO also given the clearest indication yet that an order for 20 Airbus A220 models can be expected before the end of this year, making it the most successful year yet for the former Bombardier CSeries since it came under a joint venture between Airbus and Bombardier.
Indications are also growing that Airbus is nearing a decision to launch a stretched version of the A220 which would match the capacity of the Boeing B737NG series but with vastly superior operating economics. Air France was the first major airline to express an interest to sign and order for a larger A220 version. The initial model, the A220-100, can accommodation, in an all economy version, up to 135 passengers, the A220-300 version up to 160 passengers, again in an all economy version and the proposed A220-500 could potentially carry between 180 and 200 passengers in an all economy cabin layout.
This looming development at Airbus is no doubt adding to the challenges the US manufacturer has, not just over the Boeing B737MAX issues but also the latest findings that 5 percent of the over 800 B737NG aircraft inspected so far under an urgent Air Worthiness Directive by the FAA have shown signs of cracks in the so called pitch fork, a crucial part which connects the wings to the aircraft itself.