JetBlue orders 60 A220-300s in surprise timing

July 10, 2018, (c) Leeham News: JetBlue announced an order today for 60 Airbus A220-300s, nee Bombardier CS300s. The airline took options on 60 more.

The timing is a surprise–JetBlue previously said it would not be ready to order until toward the end of the year.

The order is a blow to Embraer, which has 60 E-190s in service with JBLU. The airline had orders for 20 more, but delivery had been deferred several times. Industry insiders told LNC the order could be canceled with little or no penalty.

The order is a blow to Embraer for the flip and for the loss of a potential E2 order. The E195-E2 seats slightly fewer passengers and has less range than the A220-300.

JetBlue has a large fleet of Airbus A320ceos, a few A321ceos and a large order book for neos.

The airline sided with Bombardier in the Boeing trade complaint against the CS100 order by Delta Air Lines in 2016. JetBlue, along with Spirit Airlines, wrote letters supporting Bombardier against charges by Boeing that the Delta deal was supported by unfair and illegal government subsidies and harmed Boeing. The US Department of Commerce upheld Boeing’s complaint, but the International Trade Commission unanimously rejected claims of harm to Boeing.

Concurrently with this order, JBLU swapped orders for 25 A320neos to A321neos.

Pratt & Whitney GTF engines are the exclusive engine on the A220. The GTF will power the JBLU neos.

This order gives Airbus a good kick going into next week’s Farnborough Air Show.

55 Comments on “JetBlue orders 60 A220-300s in surprise timing

  1. Sweet Biscuits. So much for the nay sayers.

    They saw a good thing and got on while the getting was good.

    Go C Series (it will be Forever C To Me), and I am a poet along with all my other fine skills!)

    60 options as well.

    Go GTF!

  2. That’s a kick in the balls for Embraer.

    I’m expecting more, significant orders for the A220.

    • I wonder if the tie up between Emb and Boeing was a factor?

      Anyway, tremendous news for BBD and AB, so soon as the conclusion of their tie up. They may have sweetened the deal to get the ball rolling, maybe added a time element to that sweetener (“Signing before Farmborough gets you 10% off”, or “First buyer gets free alloys, extended warranty, and servicing thrown in for the first 60,000 miles”). With Airbus’s resources behind them they can play that game.

      The folk in BBD must be rubbing their hands in delight!

      • I think they did it now for the same reason Air Balti have given for their preJV re-order, early delivery slots are still available. THe Alabama FAL will be lucky to average 4/month over the first two years. A couple more big orders and you are looking at a multi-year delay. I wonder if Moxy has their slots locked down. If not JetBlue may have delayed their launch with this.

        • Could more US orders for the A220 trigger AB to build an FAL at Mobile that has say a 10/month capacity with production ramping up over a 2 or 3 year period?

          Supplier ramp-up such as the PW engines and wing could be bottle necks.

          • Ramp up has been planned, I don’t think it matters where (and a second line was planned for Montreal, initial equipment goes to Alabama)

            An FAL is nothing more than an open building (sadly in this case they will need serious A/C)

            I had to laugh, Boeing plant had heating, in the winter they close the doors, in the summer they open them, saves a lot of money. Heating not needed.

      • …or Get a full tank of Avgas on delivery….

        Very good news for the A220, sure its not the last for the year.

      • They may have sweetened the deal to get the ball rolling, maybe added a time element to that sweetener (“Signing before Farmborough gets you 10% off”, or “First buyer gets free alloys, extended warranty, and servicing thrown in for the first 60,000 miles”).

        EMB and BA tie up has nothing to do with the order as they do not have an aircraft in their portfolio that is near or match the technological advances in the A220 (C series). As for sweetener etc etc, it is all part of a manufacturer’s negotiating technique and BA has done the same if not more in selling their B787 eg. Hawaiian Airlines is one.

        • There simply is not competitor for the CS-300.

          The CS-100 is out of scope, so there is some outmaneuver down there dependent on who is buying and what the routes look like.

          Mainline (Delta) will run both likely regional feeders more towards the E2 series.

  3. Yesterday Gulf Air cancelled 10 of them…

    But agreed. We all root for an underdog. C series it is.
    Good PR for Airbus. It’s a great win and switch.

    Still don’t quite get the fascination with Boeing buying EB for manpower to build the NSA/797 one day though. Nothing against folks there but why would Boeing need them. Nothing revolutionary they are doing. Tight, good management, sure.
    ok, perhaps some ‘tedious’ NSA, 797 task outsourcing a la Indian IT companies but still… not clear to me.

    Oh… and will these count in the annual bragging right tally? 🙂

    • Yes they will count in the annual bragging rights tally!

      I wonder why Gulf Air cancelled?

      • Gulf Air and their ever changing strategy as they desperately struggle to survive while surrounded by Saudia, Emirates, Qatar and to a smaller extent Etihad.

        • Like IC, I don’t buy that Boeing needs Emb for the 797. That is already a done deal (it will launch at Farnbourough)

          There may be some production parts done there, but Emb does not have the composite experience Boeing has.

          I think they got it purely for the 737RS. That may launch soon as well.

          • The rumours is that Boeing wants Embraer systems integration and FBW experience. Embraer is highly capable for developing its own FBW software, and now is capable of developing hardware as well. The E2 FBW software is all made in-house. The systems integration was all performed by Embraer.

    • Mr Hamilton has been making the case of an upcoming retirement wave of engineers and specialist machine workers at Boeing.
      That, plus the significantly lower employment costs would make Embraer an attractive target.

      • Most of the E jets are made outside Brazil. Part is even made in Everett and Arlington TX by Triumph

        • If your engineers do not have the design experience that Boeing’s do with composite fuselage, then where does that leave them?

          Remember the Russian engineer debacle on the 747?

          I suspect Boeing will loose more of those people after the 797. That is an engineers once in a lifetime deal.

          Particularly as its going to be done tight and right.

          • Didnt Boeing only come late to the 787 composite fuselage production, taking over Voughts share during 787s darkest days. The original plan was for Boeing to only make the vertical tail and moved a lot of design/build to its top end suppliers. Thats especially relevant for carbon parts.
            My view is that Boeing is going to use panels rather than a complete barrel for its NMA, makes the transport from suppliers far easier as well as the obvious structural advantages.

          • They might even “lose” some. LOL

          • I don’t think the failure of the Russian engineering project on the 747 stands the comparison with Embraer engineering.

            Brazilian engineers generally are used to work in English (data, contact outside the company etc).

            Embraer is not some minor company in a Brazilian backwater. It’s a mature international busines, used to operating in the same constelation Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier operate in.
            I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority in management were educated in the US.

            Let me define considerably cheaper a bit more.
            An engineer in the greater São Paulo area costs maybe 50% of what an engineer costs in the USA. Support staff (secretary, cleaning, payroll, HR, security guard etc) cost maybe around 25% of what they would cost in the US.

            People that have a Rio, carnival and beaches idea of Brazil will be surprised by São Paulo.
            When it comes to work, Saõ Paulo and it’s people compare to Rio and the Northeast of Brazil (that’s where most Westerners go for a beach vacation) like Germans compare to Italians.

          • The point was that Beoing did not have the Russian engineers integrated into their system and it fell apart.

            Integrating two entities into a project is a major task.

            I don’t see Emb that deeply involved in the 797. The basic design is done and read to go. Emb would have to catch up to the current status to be any help.

            Boeing is still fresh out of the 787 developed and has those engineers on board.

            Boeing will not go with a composite panel on frame system. Not in their DNA.

            Wing will be composite of course and I think the fuselage is up to a tech fight on aluminum (advanced) or composite spun with modification to maybe out of auto clave.

            Boeing took Airbus by surprise once and they have been looking at the next step for a long time.

    • > Nothing revolutionary they are doing. Tight, good management, sure.

      There are what, perhaps 4 workforces in the world able to get certified airliners build. It takes a combination of technical skills and management and the management may well be more than half of the skillset. 2/3 if you insist they make money at it. So Boeing is getting a package deal on the lowest cost workforce in the world proven to be able to build airliners.

      • Yes, execution capacity of a particular vernacular (av. skills). I buy that.
        Not innovation (or most of it).

  4. Good going JetBlue, you have made the right choice as there is nothing that EMB or BA has to offer that can match the technologically advance A220-300s especially now they have the full support the Airbus group. It is because of this BA tried every trick in the book to stop and destroy them entering the US market but thankfully they failed this time round.

  5. A couple days ago when Airbus suggested they had some orders coming in, they might have been talking about clients not a tally for the planes. This could get real interesting in a short time…

    • It certainly could get very interesting indeed, and very quickly.

      Say that Airbus / Bombardier manage to attract 1000 orders over this next year? Sounds like a lot, but perhaps not; they have just shifted 60, with options for another 60. It’s only a few of those kinds of orders for the tally to be several hundred.

      And if anything like that does happen, there is only one conclusion that matters in the USA; these are orders that did not go to Boeing. Yet again. How long before Boeing realise that good but declining sales in a market they are sharing is a trajectory towards zero profits from the market?

      Whatever BA do now, it has to be truly spectacular to swing the market share momentum back in their favour. That is at least 7 to 10 years away, during which time Airbus has the luxury of responding in kind and cleaning up with profitable sales over the next decade. And for some unfathomable reason Airbus also seem well set to tweak the A320 family yet again to compete with Boeing’s theoretical NMA. And, given that the tweaks would inevitably be pretty cheap, the price competition would be severe.

      • Airbus also seem well set to tweak the A320 family yet again to compete with Boeing’s theoretical NMA. And, given that the tweaks would inevitably be pretty cheap, the price competition would be severe.

        That’s what they said about the A330 neo.

        • Yes but you are comparing the aircrafts of two different series which is wrong. The A320 series was tweaked and selling very well and Airbus commanded the single aisle market share which is what BA has failed to do.

          • If Boeing and EMB can come up with a leap in tech for the 737RS, then Airbus may not be able to upgrade the A320 enough to make the difference.

            There is something about an all new program that gets people excited, even airlines managers.

            I would say stay tuned on this one.

            As noted, the so called vastly better A330NEO price, is being beaten on price.

            If you are going to have a shootout at the OK Corral, don’t bring a pen knife!

          • Its well known airframe differences dont have much of a cost benefit. The engines and wings are where the real action is.
            Airbus has the lead as its fuselage/cockpit/ has a lot of life left, but are still on original wing. So a new Al wing design would help but is marginal for this market as they have done the engine change.
            Using the carbon fibre wing design and production process from its new partner is the way to go as they can shave years and billions off development and bring it quickly to the market.

          • Air frames do have a possible cost benefit if you can come out with a revised form that breaks out of the standard mold.

            That I believe is what Boeing is shooting for in the 737RS.

            The 797 is going to be a somewhat in between mostly for the width they want.

            That a 737 can stay competitive in this day and age tells you how little refinement the tube can accomplish.

            Gains have been in wings and engines but it does not HAVE to be if they can come up with a better form.

            Stay tuned

  6. Sets up an interesting dynamic between Moxy (Neeleman’s nascent “Blue2” startup) and JetBlue. Both have orders for 60 A220s, and it’s likely that at least some of Moxy’s focus airports (secondary airports of major metro areas) are also natural JetBlue markets.

    This plays into a very natural narrative, whether originally true or not, of Moxy being a vehicle for a grudge match between Neeleman and his former airline. Whether or not there was any truth to such a motivation, it makes it an easier story to tell and it provides a larger grain of truth to it.

    • Isn’t running an successful airline hard enough as it is without using it a vehicle to settle a grudge match?

  7. No surprise here..good way to bolster sagging order backlog for the year..
    Pretty silly add to ab’s order though.

    • It’s now an Airbus plane. JetBlue bought Airbus A220s, not BBD CS300s. All these planes will be built at Airbus’s Mobile factory.

      * shrug *

      • Agreed but also does not matter.

        All aircraft now delivered in Montreal are also legitimate adders to Airbus as well.

  8. With the timing jetBlue had in some way become the “launching” customer for the A220, price and securing slots must have played a role. But its also possible that more orders could be announced next week and/or to get airlines still sitting on the fence to make up their mind and secure slots as well as to increase confidence in the future of the CS/A220 family aircraft.

    • Jet Blue had those locked up already. They just waited to announce it.

      I don’t know if anyone remembers, N.W. back when it existed had the first rights on the 787. They were not listed as the launch customer but they had the slots sowed up.

      They deferred and deferred and ultimately Delta canceled them.

      So all this is going on for Max PR and that is fine, but you can bet a whole lot more is in the works.

  9. Embraer had two big customers in North America for the E190: Air Canada and Jetblue and lost both the two. In addition Neeleman who was an Embraer supporter already announced his firm intention to buy th A220. It is also interesting noting that the A220-300, the bigger version, has more two thirds of the order list. It means that the market is not concentrated anymore on 100 seaters but on higher capacity aircraft (around 130 seats in two class layouts)with longer range. In the last 10 years Embraer made an option for roomier aircraft, offering new technology, much more comfort and better performance than the competitor, which had cramped cabins using the fuselage cross section of 50 seaters. And the Brazilian company commanded the market. Now the opposite is happening, the A220 has the upper hand, with advanced technogies, competitive or lower unit costs, more passenger cabin space, bigger toilets and longer range. Even with the Boeing sales penetration, maybe at United and elsewhere, they will need to work much more on the price of the aircraft to become competitive. And the E190E2 has slim chances of being successful, since the market shows appetite for bigger aircraft.

    • of all the factors you listed, the only ones the airlines care about are purchase cost, trip cost & seat-mile cost.

      they don’t give a flying hoot about passenger experience (which is much more dependent on how the airline chooses to outfit the plane than any inherent design characteristic of the plane).. ask any non-aviation-geek what plane they like and likely they will say 747, because that is the only plane that is really recognizable to non-av-geeks. ask them what plane they don’t like and they will say “any prop job”… other than that, specific airplane is in the noise to the vast majority of shmoes buying a plane ticket.

      • Bilbo: of all the factors you listed, the only ones the airlines care about are purchase cost, trip cost & seat-mile cost.

        I agree with most of this statement but there are now Airlines that are going in the opposite direction. They are seeing a market for customers that want to be on planes that they don’t feel crammed in. Consider that people are well…. to be blunt bigger then in the past.

        Consider that Neeleman is planning on using the A220-300 to exploit the wide body feel with bigger windows, bigger bathrooms and more room for luggage. The idea is to charge a higher premium for all those items and serve the smaller markets in the United States.

        And this order isn’t some mirage, they have order slots starting in 2020.

        Then all you have to do is look at Air Baltic. And how the fleet transformation has turned Air Baltic into one of the fastest growing airlines in Europe. Every year, every quarter even, their passenger number records keep getting broken as they bring in new A220’s. Their original goal was to retire the 737 classics they own since their fuel burn is a lot higher then the A220’s but they have put that plan on hold and pushed it back as they are in expansion mode.

        And if you look at their future route planning, they have big dreams to keep expanding which will make them big threats to other low cost airlines in Europe. Those Airlines don’t have the cost efficiencies that Air Baltic has and Air Baltic can not only be competitive in price but also in cabin comfort.

        There is actually a growing number of customers that only want to fly on the A220’s for short haul flights from what Air Baltic is reporting, customers are choosing them if they have options to choose between carriers to get point to point.

        And that is what Delta see’s as well. They see what Air Baltic is doing and is planning on creating new routes with their A220’s since well they are basing some of them in New York. And which airline has a strong hold in that area? JetBlue….

        You break it down further and then you wonder. Didn’t JetBlue state that their fleet review would be decided at the end of the year? And were we not a bit surprised that this order came out of the “blue”? Its almost as if JetBlue’s hand got forced by the emergence of a new carrier called Moxy and Delta planning on running A220’s in their area.

        And what other domino’s are going to fall? Does Spirit have to respond with an order? What about in Europe with Air Baltic now securing even more slots for an additional 60 A220’s, what does that mean for Airlines that are seeing Air Baltic creep into their strongholds? Are low cost Airlines in Europe going to respond?

        I think Airlines like Air Baltic are showing they have a product that is defining for their category and maybe there will be a lot of regret from people that wanted to see Bombardier stay independent but their dreams of creating an airplane that is special is being born out. These are just the first domino’s to a larger wave of airlines now have to respond. And they will have to find an answer since either you sink or you swim and JetBlue saw the writing on the wall it seems.

        • *if* you the core airplane economics advantage, and then, you have the comfort advantage, i’d agree this could make a material difference. But it’s in that order.

          Equal or negative economics won’t be rescued by passenger comfort. The latter would be scavenged at all cost by the operator squeezing for revenue.

          We may be in the odd case that the A220s have both. Good for them.
          And yes, huge loss for EB.

        • range and payload (mission) requirements comes first

          commercial terms and economics come second.

          these are followed by fleet commonality, pilot training costs, maintenance, manufacturer support, resellability

          all of the above being equal is the only time “passenger comfort” will enter the equation as, again, this has a lot more to do with how the airline equips the aircraft than any inherent characteristic of the aircraft.

          • The C is wider so yes it does have a factor.

            How tight you can cram seats in with leg room is another matter of course.

            But given the choice people will go for the better comfort if the cost is the same or even close.

          • As TransWorld says the c-series is wider with wider seats. But also wider aisle, larger windows, more overhead storage and feels spacier due to greater width and height combined with a shorter cabin. Those factors will make for a more comfortable trip even if the airline maxes out passengers using a 28″ pitch.

            Wider aisle and more storage space also result in a more relaxed boarding experience. Less of the “will I get may bag in the overhead” anxiety.

            Operationally the airline may not need to do ask much “gate checking” of baggage and boarding may also be faster because of faster baggage storage, wider aisle allowing for better passenger flow and fewer rows.

  10. Didn’t i see somewhere (WSJ?) that the Boeing/EB deal would not be closed until end of *next* year.

    If so, this could really leave room for AB to pounce (assuming they have slots to sell).

    Is this 1.5y difference material? Opinion?

    • Well, looking at the AB ramp these days, I’d say they’ve got a great chance of piling up some 220 “Gliders” from obtaining more orders! LOL

  11. The CS is far superior than the Embraer. That’s why there is all that Boeing fuzz.

    • Better yes. Not a totally wipe out.

      The E2 is pretty good as well and 6 wide.

    • Joe M:

      While the C clearly is technically Superior it is also above scope.

      The E2-190 is not, so it can be flown at regional pay rate.

      Both the Cs have to be flown by mainline pilots at higher rates.

      Ergo, the juggle between your route, flight setup, the economics and how it all plays out decision wise.

      Jet Blue feels it can make it work. Delta clearly does as well (what a hodge podge of 717, MD-88- MD90 they have!)

      The C series for Delta would look to be a major simplification of that under 160 seat fleet that main line pilots fly.

      So the E2-190 will have a lot of sales and the C looks to have a lot as well.

      The E2-195 remains to be seen as its a bit too small outside the US and too big inside. Windermere I believe is buying the 190s though.

      Availability also plays a part. A pretty good bird in the hand is worth two in the production Que if you can’t get them for X number of years.

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