JetBlue Founder Buys 60 Airbus A220 for New US Startup
A new US airline will launch with the Airbus A220 as its first airplane. A group of investors lead by David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase 60 A220-300 aircraft. The plane is the rebranded C Series aircraft manufactured by Bombardier.
The announcement was made today via press release. The airline has been dubbed "Moxy," which is so far only a working name for the new startup. The purchase is worth $5.5B at the A220 list price of $91.5 million, but airlines typically get discounts for such large orders.
On the sidelines of the Farnborough airshow, a Moxy source indicated the airline would not be ready for launch until 2021, when the planes would begin to roll off the line. These A220s will be manufactured in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus has long manufactured the A320 there.
"It's a fantastic platform and will allow us to fly several routes from smaller markets, wherever those markets may be," the source said.
The purchase comes on the heels of JetBlue ordering the same quantity of aircraft on Monday. That deals a blow to rival Embraer, the Brazilian planemaker whose commercial airplane programs Boeing just bought in response to Airbus buying the C Series program from Canada's Bombardier. The competing Embraer E2 jet is being trounced by the Airbus A220 in US sales; Delta Airlines has 75 A220-100 aircraft on order, which it plans to introduce into service this year. Other A220 operators worldwide include SWISS, Air Baltic, and Korean.
"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," Neeleman said in a statement. The JetBlue founder is the controlling shareholder of Azul, and an investor in TAP Portugal.
"This [startup] 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," said Eric Schulz, Chief Commercial Officer for Airbus. "This commitment confirms the important role the A220 aircraft now occupies in our Airbus single-aisle portfolio."
Today's announcement is the first by Airbus for any US airline at the Farnborough show.