Airbus’s sealing of its landmark US orders for A220-300s means the airframer has effectively doubled the entirety of sales achieved by the rival A319neo.

The agreements for 120 aircraft – with 60 apiece for JetBlue Airways and start-up Moxy – are the first firmed orders for the type secured by Airbus since it took over the former Bombardier CSeries programme in July last year.

Airbus had originally claimed its A319neo would leave the CSeries without a business case, with former chief operating officer for customers John Leahy stating that the re-engined aircraft left Bombardier with a “much harder” task to sell the CSeries.

This claim appeared to gain some validity when key CSeries customer Republic Airways Holdings became the first company to commit publicly to the A319neo, with a tentative agreement for 40 – although this was subsequently halved to 20 when the deal was firmed in December 2011.

But Republic subsequently divested the A319neo order to Frontier Airlines when it sold the US carrier in 2013, and Frontier eventually converted its entire A319neo batch to the larger A320neo.

Airbus, ironically, has inherited the Republic CSeries order following its acquisition of the programme, and its backlog figures list the customer as having 40 A220-300s on order.

The A319neo – at least, the version with CFM International Leap-1A engines – has been newly certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

But the variant overall has only attracted weak interest. Despite securing an order for 22 from an undisclosed customer in April 2018 – its first order in three years, other than individual agreements from private operators – the backlog stands at just 53 aircraft.

Avianca is the only named airline customer for the A319neo, with 20 on order. Thirty others are assigned to unidentified operators, and three others to private clients.

The new A220 agreements, in contrast, take publicly-declared orders for the -300 variant to around 400, while the backlog also includes 123 for the smaller -100.

JetBlue and Moxy become the joint second-largest customers for the A220, behind Delta Air Lines and ahead of Air Baltic and Air Canada. Forty-nine A220s had been delivered by the end of November last year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard