Airbus has admitted for the first time that a higher-capacity variant of the A220 is expected to emerge in the next few years. Christian Scherer, COO of planemaker, stated that “This is a question of when, not a question of if” during an IATA event in the US.
Scherer explained, however, that while it is natural to think of an A220 larger than the -300 variant (capable of carrying up to 160 passengers), the decision to do so is not imminent.
For some years, speculation has been about the A220-500, a more efficient alternative to the A319neo or even the first generation A320.
One of the first airlines to show interest in the hypothetical plane was Korean Airlines in 2018, which today has 10 A220s in its fleet.
Air France also made it clear that an ‘A220-500’ would be an attractive option to replace its A320s, in addition to the 60 A220-300s ordered.
During the delivery of the first plane last week, Ben Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM, said, “We have told Airbus for a long time that we would be very interested in a stretched A220 as an A320 replacement, but discussions are preliminary so far.”
Currently, Airbus has 643 orders for the A220, 173 of which have already been delivered.