EgyptAir Express has accepted its first of 12 Airbus A220-300s, becoming the first carrier to operate the type in the Middle East. It is only the sixth airline worldwide to fly the type, following deliveries to airBaltic, Swiss, Korean Air, Delta Air Lines and Air Tanzania.
The Cairo-based carrier is set to use the Canadian-built jets on domestic services and international routes to Middle Eastern, North African and Southern European destinations. They will replace 12 Embraer E170s which are gradually being phased out. An initial E1, SU-GCV (c/n 17000170), was retired in mid-June. It has been sold to Tunisian start-up Jasmin Airways along with sistership, SU-GCW (c/n 17000175).
The airliner is fitted out with a two-class interior accommodating 125 economy and 15 premium economy travellers. Alongside 11 further A220s, the carrier is awaiting delivery of 15 A320neos from the European manufacturer.
Airbus has started manufacturing the first A220s at its Mobile, Alabama-based final assembly line. Work began on August 5 and followed the return of the first group of technicians who had undergone on-the-job training at Mirabel, Québec, Canada, where the A220 programme and primary assembly line are located.
The company first revealed plans to establish a second final assembly line at Mobile in October 2017, with construction on a new production hangar and other support buildings starting earlier this year. Airbus said it will be producing the first few A220s in the same buildings as it uses for the A320 Family aircraft while also utilising recently completed support hangars. The first US produced A220 – a -300 for Delta Air Lines – is scheduled for delivery during the third quarter of next year, and by the middle of the next decade, the facility will be producing between 40 and 50 A220s per year.
After completing their training in Mirabel, the initial group of technicians has started work on the first A220 final assembly in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo Airbus)
Jeffrey Knittel, Airbus Americas chairman and chief executive office, remarked: “The expansion of our commercial aircraft production in Mobile to a second product line – with 400 additional jobs to support it – further solidifies Airbus’ standing as a truly global aircraft manufacturer, and confirms without a doubt that it is also an important part of America’s manufacturing landscape. With Mobile, and our production network in Asia, Canada and Europe, we have strategically created a worldwide industrial base to better serve our customers.”
Airbus explained the A220 is the only purpose-built aircraft for the 100-150 seat market. With the very latest aerodynamics, use of advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney PW15000G geared turbofan engines the jet is already achieving at least a 20% lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation types. With orders for 551 examples by the end of June 2019, the manufacturer believes it has the credentials to win a lion’s share of the 100-150 seat market, estimated to represent 7,000 aircraft, over the next 20 years.
Airbus has revealed performance improvements to its latest single-aisle aircraft – the A220 Family. Starting from the second half of 2020, the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW) is being increased by 5,000lb (2,268kg) to 2.3 tonnes. This will improve the aircraft’s range capabilities to 3,350nm (6,204km) for the A220-300 and 3,400nm (6,297km) for the A220-100, around 450nm (833km) more than is currently available.
This has been achieved by enhancing existing structural and systems margins as well as current fuel volume capacity. The increased range will allow customer airlines to tap into new routes that were not possible before, such as connecting key cities in Western Europe with the Middle East or from Southeast Asia to Australia.
Rob Dewar, head of engineering and customer support for the A220, commented: “Since its entry into service close to three years ago, the A220 has already proven that it is meeting or beating its initial performance targets, bringing more flexibility and revenue potential to customers. Today, Airbus is reinforcing its confidence in the A220 platform and further enhancing its capabilities to meet upcoming market requirements.”
Airbus says that, with an order book of more than 530 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100 to 150-seat market, estimated to represent 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.