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Not enough airline orders

Airbus A319 on its way to become mainly a private jet

Airlines order Airbus A320 Neo and A321 Neo, but seem to not like the smaller A319. It is increasingly becoming a government, business and private jet.

Airbus

Airbus A319 Neo: the larger variants are more popular.

Swissair became the first airline in the world to take delivery of an A319 in 1996. Since then, Airbus has sold 1478 aircraft in the classic version known as the Ceo (Current Engine Option). At the end of July 2019, 1434 of these were still in service.

The A319 cannot keep up with the 4737 A320s sold or the 1742 A321s sold. But the second smallest member of the A320 Family is not a flop like the even smaller A318. Airbus sold just 80 of these. Airbus has long heralded the New Engine Option (Neo) era for the A320 Family, leaving the A318 right out in the cold.

Large variants are bestsellers

With more than 6000 copies ordered (A320 Neo 3900 and A321 Neo 2700), the large variants are once again the bestsellers. But the A319 Neo is avoided. At the end of July 2019, the European aircraft manufacturer had just received orders for 36 A319 Neo aircraft.

In February there were still orders for 55 A319 Neo, but in March the order for 20 jets of the battered Avianca Argentina was cancelled. Two A319 Neos remained for Air Côte d’Ivoire, 30 for undisclosed customers and three for government, business and private jets. In July a fourth aircraft was added in the last category and in August the first one was delivered to the German charter company K5 Aviation.

Not enough seats

The high proportion of government, business and private jets – ACJs for Airbus Corporate Jet for short – in the A319 Neo is exciting. By way of comparison, the A321 Neo has not yet been officially ordered in this segment, even though the Four Seasons hotel chain is interested in the A321 LR, which has a long range. For the A320 Neo, Airbus has collected orders for seven jets for exclusive customers and already delivered two.

In the previous generation, the Ceo, the A319 with 77 government, business and private jets left the A320 with 20 and the A321 with only one aircraft behind. The advantage: even a head of government who travels with her team and press representatives can manage with an A319. It also offers more range than an A320. As a passenger aircraft, the A319 is out of fashion in times when airlines usually want to squeeze as many seats and passengers as possible into the jet.

Competition with the A220

In addition: With the former Bombardier C-Series, Airbus has brought a competitor to the A319 into the company. The A319 Neo and the larger version of the Canadian aircraft, now called the A220, are already at eye level with a maximum of 160 seats and 120 to 150 seats in a two-class configuration. And for the A220-300, Airbus has already placed orders for 461 aircraft – 13 times as many as for the A319 Neo.

Despite taking over the more modern C-Series, Airbus had decided to keep the A319 on offer. “It is ideal in difficult conditions such as high altitude airports or hot climates,” said marketing manager Antonio Da Costa in summer 2018. In addition, the A319 Neo has a longer range than the A220-300.

ACJ319 with huge range

Airbus has also equipped the ACJ319 with additional tanks and given it a long-range range of 12,500 kilometres with eight passengers on board. In April, the manufacturer even sent the jet on a record flight of 16 hours and 10 minutes. This pleases rich private customers and governments.

It looks as if the A319’s advantages will be particularly appreciated by exclusive customers, but hardly by airlines. There is little to suggest that this will change. The A319 is on its way to becoming primarily a government, business and private jet.

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