JetBlue has become the first customer for the newly-rebranded Airbus A220 aircraft, signing a memorandum of understanding for 60 firm orders for the larger A220-300 model.
In addition, the airline converted 25 of its current orders for Airbus A320neo aircraft into orders for the larger A321neo.
JetBlue’s A321neos and A220s will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.
The news follows the rebranding of the Bombardier C Series after Airbus completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in the programme.
“JetBlue’s selection of the A220 aircraft as a complement to its growing A320 family fleet is a tremendous endorsement – both of the A220 itself and of the way these two aircraft can work together to provide airline network flexibility and a great passenger experience,” remarked Eric Schulz, chief commercial officer for Airbus.
“JetBlue will be able to leverage the unbeatable efficiency of both the A321neo and the A220-300, as well as taking advantage of the roomiest and most passenger-pleasing cabins of any aircraft in their size categories.”
Deliveries of the A220-300 planes are scheduled to begin in 2020, JetBlue said in a statement, as the carrier ended its search for a more efficient small jet to replace its Embraer SA E190.
Complementing the A320 family, the A220-100 and A220-300 models cover the segment between 100 and 150 seats and offer a comfortable five-abreast cabin.
With the most advanced aerodynamics, CFRP materials, high-bypass engines and fly-by-wire controls, the A220 delivers 20 per cent lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous generation aircraft.
“We are evolving our fleet for the future of JetBlue, and the A220-300’s impressive range and economics offer us flexibility and support our key financial and operating priorities,” said Robin Hayes, the JetBlue chief executive.
“As JetBlue approaches our 20th anniversary, the A220, combined with our A321 and restyled A320 fleet, 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.”
The Airbus A220 will serve a worldwide market for smaller single-aisle airliners, estimated at around 6,000 such aircraft over the next 20 years.
Airbus manufactures, markets and supports A220 aircraft under the recently finalised C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership agreement with Bombardier.
“The CSALP partnership between Airbus, Bombardier and Investment Quebec is committed to bringing the world the very best aircraft in the 100- to 150-seat market, and JetBlue’s choice of the A220-300 shows that our team is producing a winner,” said Philippe Balducchi, chief executive of CSALP.
“We look forward to the A220 serving JetBlue and its customers well for many, many years.”