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Big Battle of the Smaller Jets: Airbus A220-300 vs Embraer E195-E2, by Travel Radar Correspondent Ankur Deo

The Regional Aviation Industry forms an intriguing branch of the aviation world: Small distances, small aircraft and a huge market! In fact, more than half of the global aviation market thrives thanks to short and medium haul flights. However, this ginormous market is dominated by quite a few select aircraft: The Airbus A220 (ex-Bombardier C Series), the Embraer E175, E190 and E195 series aircraft, and other players like the Aerospatiale ATR aircraft.

However, when it comes to planes that can carry up to 150 passengers and 5000km range, the recently launched Embraer E2 jet program, alongside the Airbus A220-300 aircraft attract the limelight! Today, we focus on ‘Why’ these two programs are important, ‘How’ they are unique and ‘What’ stand do they take in the market!

Why are these programs significant?

Let us first look at the background on how these programs came to exist, and why are these so important in their own ways. The Bombardier C-Series Program was anticipated as a game changer in short haul aviation market. However, its sale was stopped dead in its tracks, as Boeing filed an anti-competitive injunction against the company. For Bombardier to sell the aircraft in the USA (obviously a huge market), they would have to sell each unit at more than the list price, well over the possible cost of multiple 737 aircraft. And this is where Airbus stepped in the picture. They bought 51% of the C-series, renamed it the A220 and started to build/complete construction at their Mobile Alabama facility. The A220 was now ‘American Made’ and free to be sold as a domestic product.

Image Credits: Airbus

Not to be outdone, Boeing looked at the market and saw another aircraft company building a rival to Bombardier/Airbus – Embraer. Swiftly, Boeing signed an agreement with Embraer to take control of its commercial aircraft and start to sell it as part of the Boeing line up.

With both Boeing and Airbus now having small commercial planes (under 150 seats) on their books, it was time for them to go head to head.

Image Credits: Embraer

How do they stand up against each other?

Looking at passenger count, we can see that the A220 can carry more than the E195-E2 in a maximum configuration. At a more generous 32″ of leg room, that number is still 141 passengers. Simply put, the A220 is better at carrying more paying customers. By all reports, the A220 is actually configured with plenty of generous leg room, great cabin humidity and plenty of modern comforts. (There is even a window in the toilet, yes, really!). The Airbus even provides about a thousand kilometres more than the E195-E2 in range. Thus, if it is the number of passengers and range you are after, the A220-300 clearly bags that title.

Image Credits: Airbus

The Embraer E195-E2, on the other hand, has a staggered seating in business class, passengers are always in rows of 2 (not 2-3 like the A220) and there are configurations for first, business and economy cabins all on one flight. Surprisingly, both aircraft use the same engine, the Pratt and Whitney PurePower PW1500G geared turbofan engines. Sure, the Airbus A220 can fly longer but the E195-E2 burns less fuel per seat, and well, fuel is the primary expense for airlines. Hence, if it’s efficiency you are after, as an airline, you might want to consider the E195-E2.

Image Credits: Airliners.net

If pricing is considered, the Airbus A220 costs $30m more than its rival (In layman’s terms, you’d get three Embraer E195-E2 jets for the same price of two Airbus A220s!). In an era where airlines are preferring smaller jets which can fly efficiently and more frequently, the E195-E2 certainly stands tall!

What does the market say?

In October 2019, TAP Portugal Airlines’ regional branch, the TAP Express expressed its interest to replace the older E175 and E190 jets. The possible options the TAP was considering were the Airbus A220-300 and Embraer E195-E2. This order is still pending, but it does give an idea how wonderfully both aircraft have placed themselves in the market! Whereas, JetBlue, on the other hand, decided to replace their aging Embraer E190s with the Airbus A220s in June last year. The airline will start taking delivering of the A220-300 starting in 2020. Delta chose the A220 while Wideroe chose the Embraer E195-E2!

Image Credits: JetBlue

This strong tussle between the E195-E2 and Airbus A220-300 is a clear representation that business demand is strong for both aircraft and it is just a matter of what the airlines are after: Range, Passenger count, Efficiency, or cost of operation and procurement!

What is your favourite among the two? The smaller, sleeker and efficient E195-E2 or the rebranded and dashing Airbus A220-300?

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