There Is Interest For The Airbus A220 In China

During a media briefing call yesterday, Airbus talked about the future of the Airbus A220 in China. While the aircraft currently has no customers in the region, Airbus is confident that there is a clear market for the short-haul jet. Let’s find out more about the A220 interest in China.

Airbus A220-300
The A220 has found strong success in North America and Europe but is still catching on in the rest of the world, including China. Photo: Airbus

Coming up

The Airbus A220 family has been quite successful in recent years, bringing over 600 orders and over 150 deliveries. However, most of this success has been restricted to the US, Canada, and European markets, which account for over 60% of orders (including even lessors). Indeed, the only East Asian operator of the jets is Korean Air, which flies 10 A220-300s.

This absence extends to China, the world’s second-largest and rapidly growing aviation market. Currently, China’s domestic market is dominated by narrowbodies like the 737 and A320, with fewer regional jets in action. However, Airbus sees a market for the A220 in the country, with CCO Christian Scherer saying,

“Well there has been expressions of interest for the A220 in China and by the way, a good portion of the fuselage is built in China. So yes there is interest for the A220 in China, particularly in the regions of China that are outside of the mainstream routes.”

Airbus A220-300
China has a diverse aviation market that includes many regional and low-density routes across the country. Photo: Airbus

Considering China plays a substantial role in the manufacturing of the A220, that could be another boost for carriers. However, the assembly of the aircraft remains limited to Airbus’ Mirabel facility in Canada and the new line in Mobile, Alabama, in the US.

Potential customers

While most will only be familiar with China’s big three and a handful of other carriers, the country is home to nearly three dozen airlines. This means Airbus has a wide potential market base to choose from, especially for airlines that aren’t centered around the busiest hubs of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and others.

However, there could be a potential hurdle to the A220: the COMAC ARJ21. This Chinese-made regional jet carries anywhere from 90 to 105 passengers in a one-class layout, close to the A220-100’s offering. While its range is substantially lower at 1,200-2,000nm (compared to 3,450nm for the A220), the planes can otherwise serve similar routes.

COMAC ARJ21
The ARJ21 family is fairly close to the A220 in specifications and could prove to be a challenge. Photo: Getty Images

However, for airlines looking to fly longer or thinner (lower demand) routes, the A220 is the superior choice. Considering China’s vast landscape and hundreds of smaller cities, there could be a major market for the efficient aircraft. Moreover, with the domestic market in China bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels, new aircraft orders could be on the horizon.

Production going up

As Airbus sees an aviation recovery come together, the company is ramping up production too. The manufacturer will make six A220s per month in 2022 and 45 A320s monthly by the end of the year. If the A220 sees more orders, this figure could jump to 14 monthly planes by the middle of the 2020s. For now, keep an eye out for new customers for the A220 family.

What do you think about the future of the A220 in China? Let us know in the comments!


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