Airbus is developing an ultra-long range variant of the A220, according to David Neeleman. The founder of Breeze Airways revealed the information on Friday during the launch of the new airline in the U.S.
“It is under way, so we are… kind of arguing about when. But it is not a matter of ‘if,’ it is just a matter of ‘when’,” Neeleman told Reuters.
Airbus, however, declined to comment because it considered the matter confidential.
Breeze is one of the main customers of the A220-300, the largest variant of the jet originally developed by Bombardier. The carrier has 60 firm orders, but rumors say it has extended the deal to another 20 aircraft.
The increased autonomy of the A220 would be done similarly to the A320neo family, by adding an extra fuel tank to the fuselage.
Currently, the A220-300 can fly nonstop for distances up to 3,400 nm (6,297 km), which is much more than an Embraer E195-E2 (2,600 nm or 4,185 km), its main competitor.
But the Breeze executive wants more. “We need to get up to 4,000 miles,” Neeleman said without giving further details.
The A220-300 will start to be delivered to the low cost company in October and will be responsible for flights coast to coast in the U.S. and that can be covered without great difficulty by the aircraft.
The autonomy of 4,000 nm, however, may be an indication that Breeze intends to operate international flights with the Airbus jet. From Florida, the airline could fly to South America, for example, not to mention routes from the northeastern United States to Europe.