Why The Airbus A220 Will Excel In Russia

It was announced on Wednesday that Azimuth Airlines will become the first Airbus A220 operator in Russia. The…

Why The Airbus A220 Will Excel In Russia

It was announced on Wednesday that Azimuth Airlines will become the first Airbus A220 operator in Russia. The carrier will receive its first of six units of the narrowbody in the middle of next year. With the ball rolling for the type in Russia, there is plenty of potential to be had.

The Airbus A220 continues to gain ground. Photo: Airbus

Previous interest

Russia’s first A220-300 could have been operated by another airline in the form of Red Wings. However, the leisure outfit scrapped its plans for the plane in 2019. Thus, neighboring Kyrgyzstan got its hands on one of these units earlier this year when Air Manas took delivery in April.

A rising star

160 A220s have already been delivered since being introduced with SWISS in 2016. Operators across Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, have all taken on the plane. Yet, when Russia’s Azimuth takes delivery of its first, it will be six years since the type’s service entry.

Operators of the A220 praise it for its high efficiency, bringing 25% lower fuel burn and carbon emissions per seat when against previous generations. It also offers 50% lower NOx emissions than market standards. Moreover, the size of the aircraft has enabled it to become a powerhouse on short and medium-haul routes in this period of transition.

Azimuth Airlines, Airbus A220
Azimuth Airlines‘ A220-300s will arrive on lease from ALC. Photo: Airbus

The focus of the fleet

Airlines such as SWISS, which debuted the aircraft have previously shared that short-haul strategies are centered around the A220 thanks to its balance of economics. This point drives home even further amid the global health crisis.

These factors have led to the plane exceeding its pre-pandemic schedule. Notably, in June 2021, 11,914 flights were scheduled to be operated by the family. This figure compares to 10,570 in the same month in 2019.

Swiss Bombardier CS300 - Airbus A220
The Airbus A220 has a range of 6,297 km / 3,400 NM. Photo: Getty Images

Russian opportunities

There are further benefits across the board. Including a 50% reduced noise footprint. However, the key factor for the aircraft in the current climate is the cabin. All of Azimuth Airlines’ A220s will arrive in a single-class formation with 148 seats. The airline won’t have any problems filling these seats up on services from the company’s bases in Rostov-on-Don, Mineralnye Vody, and Krasnodar.

In the first instance, Russia is seeing a strong domestic recovery. In fact, 90% of the country’s A320 family aircraft are in action. With such an expanse of land and settlements in all corners of the country, there are still many untapped markets. So, carriers have the opportunity to expand domestically, including venturing further east into Siberia with the plane, which is what Airbus highlighted with its announcement.

The positioning of major cities across Russia also allows airlines to expand internationally to hotspots in the Middle East and Europe with the A220. However, with strong ties to several other neighboring countries, there are countless further opportunities.

Namely, the Commonwealth of Independent States, which Russia is part of, includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. With modern equipment such as the A220 joining the fold, there will be more seamless connections.

Additionally, the many remote settlements across these regions could take advantage of another important attribute. When it comes to commercial jets, the Airbus A220-100 has one of the shortest takeoff distance, needing a runway length of just 1,463 m / 4,800 ft.

Russia-Azerbaijan-flights-getty
There are numerous suitors to the Airbus A220 across Russia. Photo: Getty Images

Full faith

At the MAKS-2021 air show in Moscow, Julien Franiatte, Airbus’ Head of Russia expressed his belief in the aircraft to take Azimuth’s operations to the next level. The craft of the plane will give the carrier the right support for its services.

“We are extremely proud to have Azimuth as the first Russian A220 operator. This airplane is the most efficient single-aisle,” Franiatte shared at MAKS-2021.

“It is designed to keep the passenger at the heart. With the windows, with the silence, and with the incredible performance.. this machine is something that’s going to be a real tool. So, we firmly believe that the A220 will be a strong addition to [Azimuth Airlines’] feet.”

Airbus Azimuth MAKS-2021
There were plenty of smiles for Airbus and Azimuth Airlines amid the announcement of the deliveries. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

A favorite already

The A220’s balance has seen airlines choosing to operate solely the type in their fleet. For instance, airBaltic and Air Manas only hold this plane in their facilities. In an age when streamlining is the way forward to save costs, Russian carriers could benefit from consolidating with this aircraft at the center of operations.

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Overall, with the ability to hit many of Russia’s key markets while offering fantastic efficiency advantages, the A220 could do wonders for the country. One factor that also shouldn’t go amiss is comfort. The popular 2-3 seating configuration enables each seat to be slightly wider, even more so than the seats of the ever-present A320.

So, with airlines across Russia regrouping following the pandemic, the A220 will be the perfect aircraft the complement the transition. Its economics and comfort won’t leave regrets in the market.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-100 Getty
The A220-100 and A220-300 are both causing a stir in the global aviation industry.  Photo: Getty Images

Numerous prospects

There are numerous airlines across Russia in all shapes and sizes. Regional, leisure, charter, and full-service carriers could all benefit from the A220.

The likes of Aeroflot, Red Wings, S7 Airlines, Ural Airlines, Nordwind Airlines, I-Fly, and Yamal Airlines already operate the A320. Meanwhile, several other Boeing and Russian narrowbodies can be spotted in the country. Therefore, it won’t be a surprise to see more airlines following Azimuth Airlines’ lead and adopt the A220 in the next chapter.

The Airbus A220-300 wasn’t certified in Russia until 2019. So, with Azimuth kicking things off, perhaps we could see a domino effect across the Russian industry.

What are your thoughts about the Airbus A220? What do you make of the plane’s prospects across Russia? Let us know what you think of the type and its prospects in the comment section.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Rex Grounds Its Entire Boeing 737 Fleet

Upstart Australian airline Regional Express (Rex) has temporarily suspended its Boeing 737 flights and wound back some of…

Rex Grounds Its Entire Boeing 737 Fleet

Upstart Australian airline Regional Express (Rex) has temporarily suspended its Boeing 737 flights and wound back some of its turboprop flights. The decision comes as a fresh round of border closures within Australia cripples the domestic airline industry.

Rex has temporarily grounded its fleet of Boeing 737-800s. Photo: Rex

A report in Australian Frequent Flyer earlier this week first flagged the suspension of 737 services. That report said Rex had stripped 737-800 flights from its schedules until at least August 1.

Rex blames internal border closures and movement restrictions

Formerly a regional airline sticking to turboprop flights linking larger Australian cities to rural and remote communities, Rex spread its wings earlier this year by moving into jet services on key Australian trunk routes.

On Wednesday, Rex confirmed the bad news. In a statement, Rex said reductions in services to cities and regional communities were due to extensive State border closures and movement restrictions. Rex also tentatively suggested a 737-800 flight suspension that runs beyond August 1.

“Domestic and Regional routes on Rex’s network in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia,
Queensland and Tasmania will be either temporarily suspended or greatly reduced until the end
of the State Government imposed border closures and/or lockdowns,” the statement reads.

Rex’s 737s link Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL), Gold Coast (OOL), Adelaide (ADL), and Canberra (CBR). In May, Rex was flying on three of Australia’s top five busiest domestic airline routes. Rex’s fleet of 60 Saab 340 planes fly to a further 59 rural and remote airports.

In May, a Rex spokesperson told Simple Flying they were pleased with the progress of their 737-800 flights that only began in March. Rex also expressed that sentiment publicly. Rex was benefitting from demand stimulated by competitive fares and connecting traffic to and from turboprop services.

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A Rex 737-800 climbing out of Melbourne. Photo: Rex

After a positive start, the tide turns for Rex

But by mid-June, another round of border closures and movement restrictions within Australia began, soon spreading. Three key Australian cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, are now locked down. There are suggestions Sydney may stay that way until September. It isn’t good news for Sydney-based Rex.

Rex maintained an aggressive posture at the onset of this fresh round of border closures and restrictions. Less than a month ago, the airline said it would boost their 737-800 fleet by two planes to eight, with more to follow.

“We hope to lease another two aircraft to take our fleet size to 10 before the end of this year as
foreshadowed in our plan announced last September,” said Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp.

Rex said it anticipated the next two jets to arrive by late August. But the likelihood of internal border closures and travel restrictions being unwound by then is low. With six Boeings now sitting idle, another two so soon seems like surplus baggage.

By mid-July, Rex was winding back the good tidings. John Sharp told CNBC the current border closures and lockdowns had resulted in Rex suspending 80% of its operations.

“It’s hit us really hard,” said Mr Sharp.

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Rex reportedly pays around AU$60,000 per Boeing per month in a sharp leasing deal. Photo: Rex

Rex is not the only Australian airline under stress

Rex reportedly picked up their former Virgin Australia Boeings at the bargain rate of AU$60,000 per month (US$44,150) for the first 12 months of the lease. It is a good deal. But as one Australian Frequent Flyer correspondent noted, that good deal is still costing Rex’s Singaporean owners a cool AU$82,740 per week (US$60,884) to lease the six Boeings. It is a substantial sum to park planes for an airline that has always prided itself on its lean operating model.

Meanwhile, the sharply deteriorating flying environment within Australia is making its impact felt elsewhere. Competitor Virgin Australia is rumored to have recently received a fresh cash injection from its private equity owners to keep flying. Overnight, Qantas staff were warned they might be stood down without pay if border closures continue. Qantas said demand for domestic flights has recently dropped by 40%.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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