News out of the UK from the Royal international Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the founder of airlines WestJet and JetBlue among others, David Neeleman, has committed to purchase as many as 60 Airbus A220-300 jetliners for a new and as yet unnamed airline. The deal is worth up to $5.4 billion at list price- almost certainly less after incentives and discounts. Still, the deal definitely boosts confidence in the viability of Airbus’ newest jetliner.
As we reported earlier this month when Airbus introduced the rebranded Bombardier C Series jetliners, Airbus had anticipated some A220 sales would come their way from the RIAT attendees. The first large commitment for the A220-300 was by JetBlue, founded by Neeleman, for 60 A220-300s with options for an additional 60 of the re-branded jetliners. His new venture, dubbed Moxy in marketing materials, will serve thinner markets but with a level of comfort not previously enjoyed by passengers usually traveling to places like Providence, Orlando Sanford, St. Petersburg in Florida, Phoenix-Mesa, Newburgh/Stewart in New York, and Trenton. Certainly not a complete list, but you get the idea.
Neeleman has quite a history in the airline business. He helped get charter operator Morris Air off the ground in 1984, Morris Air was acquired by Southwest in 1993. Then in 1996 Neeleman was one of the founders of WestJet, which grew to become what is now Canada’s second largest airline. Next up Neeleman founded New Air in 1999, which became JetBlue. Still swinging for the fences, Neeleman launched Azul Brazilian Airlines in 2008. Still CEO of Azul, Neeleman has an ownership stake in the expanded and updated TAP Air Portugal. Industry observers agree Moxy is in good hands.
Neeleman commented, “After years of U.S. airline consolidation, the conditions are improving for a new generation of U.S. airline to emerge, focused on passenger service and satisfaction. The A220 will enable us to serve thinner routes in comfort without compromising cost, especially on longer-range missions. With deliveries starting in 2021, we will have ample time to assemble a world-class management team and another winning business model.”
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz commented, “This U.S. airline startup’s decision for the A220 as the platform on which to launch their new business model is a testament to the passenger appeal and operating economics of this outstanding aircraft. This commitment confirms the important role the A220 aircraft now occupies in our Airbus single-aisle portfolio.”