A220 set to break A320neo dominance

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The idea of a stretched A220 has been around for years. Back when Bombardier fully owned the A220, it evaluated a second stretch called CS500, now known under the name A220-500. However, lots of people and Airbus themselves have been arguing that this was probably never gonna happen due to too strong competition between the A320neo and the A220-500 as a result, a second edition of the fight between the A319neo and A220-300, that seems to be over before it even started.

Over a month ago, the Dubai Air Show, the first major Air Show since the onset of the pandemic, took place in Dubai. There, Airbus was able to achieve excellent order numbers with major orders, MoUs, or LoIs. Aside from the star of the show, Indigo Partners, another Airbus order came from Air Lease Corporation. ALC signed up for a staggering 111 total aircraft, compromising mostly A321x aircraft as well as some widebodies like the A350F.

Looking at the A220 side, ALC also ordered some of them, 25 A220s to be precise which brings their total A220 order book at the moment to 75 aircraft. While this might seem impressive enough, you can also read out something else from this. Due to the recent success story of the A220, you could also view this as an order for just 25 A220s. Also very notable in that order was the lack of A320neos ordered. Now, the A321neo variants have more than twice as many orders as the A320neo, and slowly but surely carriers progressively opt for the A321neo if possible.

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Now you might wonder what the success of the A321neo has to do with a stretched A220. To put it simply: “We have accepted the fact, that our goal shouldn’t be to defend the A320neo against the A220 anymore.” - Christian Scheerer, Marketing Chief at Airbus
According to him, A320-family operators will continue to operate this family and maybe switch to the A321neo over time. On the other hand, more and more A220-family-only operators are emerging (s. Breeze and airBaltic). Those are wishing for a stretched variant to keep more aircraft commonality while operating bigger aircraft. There are also cases where A320-family operators wish to switch to the A220-family as we can see with Air France.


Airbus has now publically admitted to plan and evaluate the A220-500. The good thing about this is, that Bombardier has reportedly already designed and analyzed the A225, so Airbus’ work is rather limited. The A220-500 would fit 170-175 seats. The first analysis has also shown that the A220-500 would be more efficient than the A320neo and the B737max 8, making the switch in favor of the A220 even more viable. Therefore, developing the A225 would benefit Airbus in releasing the mounting pressure on the A321neo program while having an A320neo alternative/replacement.

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However, there is still some work to be done beforehand. The A220 is currently estimated to be losing about $400 million per year due to unfavorable supplier contracts as well as the low production rate of only about 5 aircraft per month. Scheerer said, that before releasing the A225, Airbus would need to make the program profitable, meaning following up on the planned production increase of 14 aircraft per month by 2025.

So, to come back to the original question: While it isn’t confirmed, the lack of A320neos in the order of ALC could well be seen as a sign of an Airbus A220-500 at the horizon.

What is your opinion on this move? Do you think it is beneficial or harmful for Airbus?

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A220 To not set dominance because its a brand new aircraft and will take years for more airlines to purchase…

Sooooo how will it “Break A320neo Dominance”

You know exactly why airlines still have their A320’s instead of the NEO’s. Because they wont substantially benefit the airline to purchase of the new aircraft.

As long as Airbus continues to make the A320 family aircraft, they will be dominate. In my opinion.

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Also…A220 is older than the A320neo. Why then would an airline wave the factor of buying a A220 over a A320neo with little to no benefits or differences.

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Imo Airbus should canabalize it’s own aircraft before someone else comes along and does. Give airlines the most incentive to buy Airbus, if the A220-500 will have advantages over the A320 NEO then that will make their offering even stronger. While they already have an advantage over the 737-MAX-8 they aren’t exactly blowing it out of the water especially considering that the MAX was grounded for so long. A better aircraft at such a low cost of development relatively speaking seems like a good move for Airbus.

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Nice! Airbus is rolling right now! Poor boeing 😔

A320neo is at it’s core much order though. The engines are really the only part that is newer, and with the engines being comparable that means the A220 almost certainly has an advantage having an extra few decades of engineering and scientific discovery to make better wings, fuselage, structure, etc.

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Though logistically it is older. Why would they want a new airframe when they have pilots certified to fly that airframe already. It would cost much more to switch.

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I am not talking about right now obviously, more about the future, and also only about the A320neo, not the A321neo.
And yes it will take time, but the A220 will most likely be the next success story and bring in more orders than the A320neo, which stands at roughly 1500 orders. The A220 is gaining more orders constantly and gaining speed and already has 700+ orders.
Furthermore, the A220 is a clean-sheet design. This means that its design has much more features that are future-proof and a base that will be as modern as the A320neo is now but in 25 years. And, Air France represents a case where A320-family operators can change to the A220. Additionally, it might also get a more and more appealing option for airlines to choose the A321neo, but then have more commonality for the routes with less demand, that both the A220-500 and A220-300 would fly. This way you would have more commonality on the same type of routes that the A320neo family doesn’t offer, due to the fact that barely anybody orders the A319neo.
The enhanced efficiency compared to a B737Max8 and an A320neo also makes the case for the A220. Retraining pilots also is a viable move as we can see with KLM and Transavia who decided for an even more radical change from Boeing to Airbus

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Right. In the far future I can see it taking over as Airbus wont pull a Boeing and continue to add on an old airframe. I like the A220 but defiantly think it will take a while to factor it in to airlines.

As of my understanding, A220 are more efficient and and saves more fuel than A320 family neo’s. While A320 neo family have more pax, payload and range and that’s the problem for Airbus because many airlines wants the A220-500 but airbus don’t want to end the A320 program which is dominant in narrowbody - single isle market.

the question is will the A220-500 have bigger fuselage than the current variant to increase pax, payload and range? Since there are more a320 family the A220, how much cost for the airline to retrained all A320 pilots for A220? there are still lot of question that is still questionable.

I think Airbus will decide that in the future.

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Well firstly, it will obviously have a bigger fuselage as you can see in the picture. It will be longer. Secondly, not all airlines will order the aircraft because for some it might be better to stick with the A320neo family. Retraining pilots from the A320neo-family to the A220 family isn’t the easiest, but with more and more airlines flying the A220, the number of simulators is also continuously growing. The difference between the A320neo and the A220 cockpit is also not as big as it is between the B737 and the A320 for example. I think this could also shave off some time.

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A220 has got potential, just maybe not enough to surpass the A320neo right now

I also wanted to add, that I mentioned that in my summary. Increasing the production numbers to 14 by 2025 and renegotiating the supplier contracts, both of which are on their way already. For instance, some supplier rights for certain parts were allocated to different companies who offered the same for less, and Airbus is already converting a former DeHavilland production line to be an A220 line.

This is most likely not going to happen on a global scale. Here’s why.

  1. Fleet commonality: Many existing operators of the A320ceo can easily switch to the NEO due to it having more than 95% airframe commonality with the ceo, meaning that flight and maintenance crews of the ceo do not require extensive training for them to operate the NEO. While this obviously isn’t the case with the A220; it requires a separate type rating.
  2. The A220 wasn’t built for such operations. It was originally designed as a next-generation short-haul airliner. The A320neo family, on the other hand, was intended for medium-range segments, or longer-range routes with lower demand for the A321LR. After Airbus increased the range of the A220-300, airlines began flying it on 6-hour (or more) routes. It simply wasn’t built to do that.
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I’m more focused on the fuselage width than the length. Fuselage length is more practical on a stretch version of a aircraft.

So it will be a 3-3 configuration like the A320 or 3-2 like the current A220 fuselage width? Because A320 are using same fuselage width on A320 family. If the A220 uses same fuselage width and a 3-2 configuration, i don’t think it will dominate the A320. if they will change the airframe / fuselage, then Airbus would change a lot in the aircraft design and it will cost more than having re-engine A320. We can’t tell much because of a picture. we don’t know much for more info, the specs or the performance of the A220-500 atm.

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I can only repeat myself: Of course not every airline will change, but from now on new A220-only airlines are emerging, and airlines like Air France are looking to change.
When the A220-500 is out, airlines like Qantas would most likely opt for the A220-500 in combination with the other variants instead of A320neo plus A220. As Scheerer suggested, the A320neo-family will be more centered around the A321neo and the long-range/high load sector, while the A220 might be the option for what the A320neo and A319 are, since the A319neo isn’t taking any orders.
The fleet commonality is also an issue, but again, looking at recent orders like Qantas, Air France, KLM, Transavia, or even Azimuth or airBaltic, retraining isn’t the biggest issue when the aircraft type offers better economics like the A220 does compared to the A320neo. The A220-300 (not even talking -500) is even more cost-efficient than the A321LR on long haul routes, according to Neeleman (Breeze, jetBlue, Azul, WestJet founder).

I think while it wasn’t built for that, it has emerged into something far more than what its original purpose was. The A220 gets better passenger ratings than the A320neo and is even better suited for longer routes: It has larger aisles, overhead bins windows and wider seats, etc.
That’s why the “it wasn’t built for that” doesn’t make sense for me because it isn’t worse in that part, given that it still achieves more comfort and better economics.

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Yeah exactly, we don’t know too much yet, only that the -500 was already analyzed by Bombardier and found more economic than the A320neo and B737-8. And yes it will have a stretched fuselage; not sure about the width. But as I also said, Bombardier had already drawn up concrete plans for the -500, so they also thought of how to accommodate more passengers and Airbus will not have to change much.

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Yeah, it really does profit from being a clean sheet. Looking at the cockpit layout, technical equipment, fuselage design, and other things, they could use the desires of passengers and crew to design it the best way possible. They also had the chance to take the best parts of different aircraft and combine them in the A220, while the MAX and NEO are “only” the same product in new packaging…

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Ya, if we want to make it a sort of 3 way fight it’s clear the A220 has the advantage. Even looking at where it competes now, in a 3 way fight with the A319neo, 737 max 7, and A220-300, then the A220-300 has not only sold more than both combined, but has outsold the Max 7 and 19neo combined by nearly a hundred units. I understand that these things do not scale linearly, and it would not necessarily destroy the A320neo and 737 max 8 the same way, but it is clear it is a good air frame that airlines really like. Unless there such great losses in range or capacity when it is scaled up that it would be completely uncompetitive, then I think it would really be a top seller imo.

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Potential-wise it definitely has it, the question for me is only how many airlines like Air France there are