A big part of the A220’s appeal for airlines is its ability to operate longer flights in a cost-effective manner. AirBaltic, for example, flies the A220-300 from its Riga hub to Tenerife and Dubai (and previously Abu Dhabi), roughly 2,700-2,800 miles away. Starting in 2022 JetBlue plans flights of a similar range with the type, with transcon service expected from Boston.
As the JetBlue A220-300 fleet grows the company will begin to serve transcon routes with the smaller and more fuel efficient plane. Currently published destinations from its Boston hub include San Jose, California; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The flights range from just over 2,100 miles to just under 2,700.
The eventual BOS-SJC flight is currently the longest A220 route scheduled in North America, besting Air Canada’s (currently operating) Montreal-San Francisco service. But it is not the longest scheduled A220 flight in the world. That title goes to Air Austral and its 2,882 mile hop between Reunion and Chennai, India (or possibly the slightly longer Dar-es-Salaam to Mumbai on Air Tanzania; on sale from the airline, but not in the published schedules I can see). AirBaltic’s flights from Riga to Tenerife and Dubai also edge out the JetBlue flight.
JetBlue can, however, claim longest domestic A220 flight on the planet when Boston-San Jose starts operating. Until then Delta’s Dulles-Seattle route holds that title.
Taking the A220 South of the Border
The carrier will also take the A220 into Mexico. Service to Cancun from Raleigh-Durham and Nashville operates on a mix of Embraer E-190 and Airbus A320 jets today. Schedule filings show the off peak days switching to the A220 from September 2022, with Saturday service remaining on the A320.
Shifting operating economics
Also of note, however, is that the average stage length for the A220 will not increase dramatically by next year, despite the longer routes being added to the network. Current filings suggest just over 50 daily departures next October, more than four times greater than today. But average flight length only increases about 3%.
Some of that comes from the A220 filling in where an A320 previously would have been used for mid-con routes, such as the new service to Milwaukee, Kansas City, and San Antonio. Those are financially viable with the new planes where either the larger A320 or the smaller E190 would not have worked.
Read More: On board the JetBlue A220 inaugural
Getting the same range with a far more efficient aircraft and almost the same number of seats (the JetBlue A220-300 seats 140, compared to the prior A320 config at 150) is a huge boost for the potential of these thinner transcon routes.
The Embraer fleet sees a far more dramatic shift, at least with what is currently published. Average flight distance will drop more that 25% according to the schedules.
This drop, to just over 500 miles, puts it squarely in the financial sweet spot for the type, at under two hour flight times. Breeze Airways and JetBlue founder David Neeleman highlighted that optimal operating range as part of the distinction between its initial route map for E190/E195 operations and how it plans to grow with the A220 when that enters service in the months ahead.
All very much subject to change
Plenty could change between now and when these flights actually take off. Indeed, given the way airlines adjust schedules I 100% expect that what is filed today will not actually be what happens that far down the line.
Still, the A220 is coming to transcon service eventually with JetBlue. That should shake up the market a bit.
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