A220/C-Series order for IAG?

One of the intriguing items that doesn’t seem to have been widely picked up is around the fleet planning section of the IAG Capital Markets Day, held last Friday.

IAG don’t split it out amongst their operating companies, so the table covers:

  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • Iberia Express
  • Aer Lingus
  • Vueling
  • LEVEL

So let’s take a look at the short-haul fleet plan.

Screenshot 2018-11-04 at 10.52.20
IAG 2017-2023 short-haul fleet plan

Firstly, it’s inaccurate in one sense in that according to the table, the Boeing 767s should have been phased out last year, however they’re not actually due to retire until sometime later this month.  I flew on one myself from Stockholm to London a few weeks ago.

However what’s interesting is the row with the E170/190/RJ aircraft numbers detailed.  These are operated exclusively by British Airways Cityflyer from London City Airport.  They did recently expand their fleet from 22 to 25 aircraft as we can see.  So far so good.

However from next year this number drops to 21 aircraft and then to 16 aircraft the following year.

This is odd.  Surely if they were going to decrease flying then they would have announced that as it would be a strategic shift.  So I think we can discount the possibility of a reduction in service from London City Airport.  This must mean they are planning on retiring a number of these aircraft in favour of another type.

If we look at the other lines, we can see that increases in fleet sizes are being clearly called out – there’s a shift from the A319/20/21 to the NEO family.

Where does that leave us?  We can see that as the Embraer numbers decrease, the “to be decided” line increases.  That could be more Embraers (such as the E2-190), but that sounds unlikely.

By a process of elimination, surely the Airbus A220 (formerly the Bombardier C-Series) is the logical choice?  These are fully capable of operating into London City Airport and have substantially greater range than the Embraer E170/190’s they could replace.

There have been a number of rumours circulating for a while about this, so would seem to fit.  Either way, it seems that the shift in fleet is going to start fairly soon if new aircraft are going to be arriving next year, and existing ones are going to be retired.

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