Check out JetBlue's first Airbus A220, due to begin carrying flyers early next year
Airbus has painted the first A220 bound for JetBlue Airways, some welcome upbeat news for the New York-based airline during this coronavirus pandemic-dominated year.
The A220-300 features a new tailfin dubbed "Hops" by JetBlue. The design is inspired by the idea of "connecting many short trips together as part of a larger journey" — or "hopping."
The plane is due for delivery to JetBlue from Airbus' final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, in December. It will begin carrying travelers sometime early in 2021 with airline spokesperson Philip Stewart mum on what routes it will fly.
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In May, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said the A220 could allow the airline to better serve higher-frequency routes like those between Boston (BOS) and Washington Reagan National (DCA). However, high-frequency routes have seen some of the deepest cuts across JetBlue's — and other airlines' — maps as COVID has hit business travel far worse than leisure flyers who are less time sensitive.
For example, JetBlue flew between Boston and Baltimore/Washington (BWI) up to five times a day, Philadelphia (PHL) eight times a day and Washington National 15 times a day in November 2019, according to Cirium. This year, it has suspended both the Boston-Baltimore and Boston-Philadelphia routes altogether and is only flying up to four Boston-Washington flights.
This shift in schedules could see JetBlue debut the A220 in markets where more holidaygoers are flying.
Related: JetBlue accelerates Airbus A220 deliveries, Boston-Washington a possible early route
JetBlue has orders for 70 A220-300s, which were formerly known as the Bombardier CS300. The planes will replace the 60 Embraer E190s that the carrier flies, something that is due to occur by 2025.
The airline's A220s will be laid out in a 2-3 all-economy configuration with seating for around 130 passengers.
In addition to the one A220 that JetBlue will take this year, it is scheduled to add seven more in 2021 and another eight in 2022.
Related: Why the new Airbus A220 is popular with airlines during the coronavirus pandemic