- JetBlue Airways became the second US airline to receive the Airbus A220 on Thursday with the first plane to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- The A220 is part of a fleet renewal that will see JetBlue withdraw its smaller jet, the Embraer E190.
- Passengers can expect to fly the jet in 2021 with the first scheduled routes from JetBlue’s Boston hub.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Christmas came a bit late for an airline as Thursday saw the first delivery of the Airbus A220 to JetBlue Airways, just in time for the New Year.
Airbus has handed over the keys to JetBlue for the first of 70 models, marking a new era for the 20-year-old carrier which will see its smaller aircraft withdrawn and replaced by one of the newest aircraft currently in flight.
The new aircraft, which remains unnamed for now but bears the registration N3008J, came painted in JetBlue’s instantly recognizable blue and white livery, but sports a new tail design. The pattern is called “jumps,” the term for flights that constitute a greater trip, as the curved lines resemble air routes.
Each new type of JetBlue aircraft receives a new tail design, a trend that began with the arrival of the Airbus A321 in 2013. Passengers seated near the wings of the A220 will also notice that the design is also painted. on the wing attachments of the aircraft, called winglets. , in a first for a JetBlue aircraft.
Two Pratt & Whitney Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines power the plane, delivering between 19,000 and 25,000 pounds of thrust while reducing fuel consumption by 40% compared to the plane they will replace, according to the airline. Their energy efficiency is matched only by their silence, as their manufacturer claims that noise levels are cut in half.
JetBlue has yet to unveil the interior of the plane, but customers likely won’t be disappointed as the airline regularly improves its product on board, as Business Insider found on a flight from New York to Fort Myers. , Florida, on a newly refurbished plane. Airbus A320. The new cabin experience will almost certainly include free in-flight Wi-Fi, touchscreen entertainment screens, on-demand movies and TV shows, and in-seat power outlets.
“The interior of JetBlue’s A220 will be as impressive as the aircraft’s operational capabilities,” the airline said in a statement. “Customers will also enjoy an elevated flight experience with wider seats, spacious overhead compartments and oversized windows.
The A220 is the fifth type of aircraft to join the JetBlue fleet since its creation at the turn of the century. Her arrival comes at an exciting time for the airline as it presents a new service offering for Mint business class and prepares to depart overseas with service to London in the New Year with a new aircraft expected join the fleet in 2021, the Airbus A321neoXLR.
JetBlue is the second U.S. carrier to fly the aircraft behind Delta Air Lines, which began flying the smaller A220-100 in February 2019 from New York to Boston and Dallas. Delta now flies the aircraft on routes across the country and has just acquired the larger Dash 300 variant that JetBlue now flies.
Delta’s order gave former A220 builder Bombardier the foothold it needed in the United States, but also sparked the trade dispute that led Airbus to take over the project.
The A220 will also power the new start-up airline of JetBlue founder David Neeleman, Breeze Airways. And in the north, Air Canada began flying the larger A220-300 in January.
The jet’s first routes have not been announced, but JetBlue’s head of revenue and planning Scott Laurence told Business Insider in a previous interview that Boston will see the new jet first. The initial service will be on existing short-haul routes such as Boston-Washington so that flight crews can familiarize themselves with the new aircraft.
“We plan to make sure the introduction is perfect and we want to give the aircraft a little push to easily fly an easily operated initial network,” Laurence said.
After that, Laurence said the plane would head further and further west, flying to cities like Austin and Denver before eventually serving the West Coast. The A220 has a range of 3,350 nautical miles which JetBlue intends to use to the fullest with possible transcontinental service from Boston to cities like Sacramento, California and Portland, Oregon during the summer.
“This aircraft is so flexible for us,” Laurence said, as the aircraft can fly almost any route JetBlue operates in the United States and on most of its current international routes. New York will also see the aircraft on routes to cities like Albuquerque, and the A220 will be used to aid JetBlue’s new hybrid route network.
The pandemic has seen JetBlue launch new routes to secondary markets like Charleston, South Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia, to cities as far away as Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They are called “long and thin routes” because demand is often poor, but the right plane can make the route viable. And the A220 has the economics to make them work.
“We are going to stretch the legs of this plane,” Laurence said. “This results in a high cost of the seat belt on long trips, and it’s something we couldn’t do with our E190 fleet.
The A220 will also be deployed at hard-to-reach airports, including Key West, where the runway is just under a mile long at just 5,076 feet. JetBlue is launching non-stop flights to the southernmost city of Lower 48 in 2021 from New York and Boston with the Embraer E190 and is forced to limit the number of seats it sells to meet the standards of the ‘airport.
But for the A220, it’s nothing the plane can’t handle.
“As we begin to integrate the A220 into the network, some of our best performing airports will become priorities for the A220,” said Laurence. “Key West is probably one of them.”