Airbus gives execs tour of smaller craft

Airbus gives execs tour of smaller craft

Narumon Kasemsuk

An Airbus A200-300 plane on termac at Don Mueang airport. (Airbus photo)
An Airbus A200-300 plane on termac at Don Mueang airport. (Airbus photo)

Airbus is displaying its new A220-300 jet on a two-week demonstration tour of Asia-Pacific. The 143-seat aircraft took executives from leading Thai airlines above Bangkok on Friday in the hope of sealing new deals soon.

The A220-300 is one of the newest single-aisle aircraft of the Airbus family. While the A320neo is the company’s best-selling model, the A220-300 is a complement for destinations with softer demand.

Airbus has more than a 60% market share in the region’s single-aisle market, with more than 3,000 jets flying for 80 different carriers and over 1,500 on order for future delivery.

Christine De Gagne, marketing director at Airbus, said the new equipment should maximise the profits of airlines because now they can fly a smaller jet instead of leaving the seats empty. The efficient design with 20% lower fuel burn per seat highlights the capability of minimising the cost of operations amid fierce competition.

The 100- to 150-seat market is one of the promising segments in the next 20 years, Ms De Gagne said. According to Airbus’s forecast, the demand for this size of single-aisle jet will grow to 7,000 in the next 20 years. Of that number, Asia Pacific will share at least 20%.

“The A220 family will fill the gap between large single-aisle and regional aircraft, and the range of time which this aircraft can fly is up to 7-8 hours,” Ms De Gagne said. “The lighter weight also means the capability of using a smaller airport in Thailand such as Samui airport, for which we ran a test flight once.”

Korean Air and Air Vanuatu are the first two customers for the A220 in Asia-Pacific. In the global market, Airbus has 551 orders from 21 airlines after delivering 78 aircraft to five airlines.

The accumulated flight hours are more than 200,000, with some carriers using the jet its maximum of around 18 hours a day.

The A220 family consists of the smaller A220-100 and larger A220-300, which are the only passenger aircraft purpose-built for the 100- to 150-seat market.

In Thailand, Airbus has 153 aircraft in service under leading brands such as Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia and Thai AirAsia X.

Among the popular models are the A320 family, which mainly serves the short-haul route. For long-haul destinations, there are the A330, A350 XWB and A380, connecting Asia with Europe.

Airbus also insists on a pledge to keep safety standards under the scrutiny of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. The A220 gained approval for 180-minute flights for the extended-range twin-engine operational performance standard, which means it can fly over oceans in the region.

“Thailand is standing out as one of the leading markets in Asia-Pacific,” Ms De Gagne said. “Airbus hopes new aircraft in the fleet will help the airline kick-start with appropriate demand before expanding to the bigger jet in the family when the time is right.”

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