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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.