By Victor Shalton
Air Austral Takes Delivery of First A220-300
Indian Ocean-based French carrier Air Austral of France’s La Réunion has received its first Airbus A220-300 aircraft, delivered from Airbus A220 Final Assembly Line in Mirabel, Canada. The carrier expects the second and third aircraft delivery to join Air Austral fleet in the coming days.
Air Austral announced the purchase of the three Airbus A220 aircraft in October 2019 to be a potential replacement for the carrier’s Boeing 737-800 and ATR 72-500.
The airline’s new Airbus A220 jets feature a seating layout of 132 passengers seats configured with 12 business class seats and 120 economy class seats and will mainly be deployed on regional routes between La Réunion Island and Mauritius, Mayotte, Seychelles, South Africa, Madagascar and India.
Marie-Joseph Malé, Chairman and CEO of Air Austral, said, “The delivery of this new aircraft is a very important moment for Air Austral, especially in the context of the epidemic crisis that we have been facing for more than a year. I would like to thank and congratulate all the teams and partners who made this structuring and strategic acquisition for Air Austral and its future possible.”
“This is a fundamental and responsible investment for Air Austral. The Airbus A220-300 opens up new horizons for us. This is the aircraft we needed to confirm our leading position in the Indian Ocean, while maintaining prospects for sustainable profitability,” Malé said.
Its level of comfort and performance will enable us to make an undeniable step forward in both operational and environmental efficiency. Our regional network is gaining new impetus. We are looking forward to offer this new travel experience to our customers, as soon as the health situation allows it. More than ever, we are ready for recovery,” continued the CEO.
Following this delivery, the Réunion-based airline becomes the first French operator of the Airbus A220 jet. France’s flag-carrier, Air France, is due to receive its first A220 in September. In 2019, the Air France-KLM Group signed a commitment for sixty Airbus A220 airplanes.
The A220 is powered by latest-generation geared turbofan engines, the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G, and is the quietest and most eco-friendly aircraft in its category. The aircraft features a 50% reduced noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft, 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat as well as 50% lower NOx emissions than current industry standards.
Air Austral was founded in 1974 as Réunion Air Services and initially served as a regional inter-island carrier for the French overseas territories in the Indian Ocean. Thereafter it expanded to destinations in Africa before launching longhaul flights to Paris in 2003. Several other French cities followed soon after, as did services to Sydney.
After a period of restructuring, Air Austral currently operates the aforementioned two Boeing 737-800, one ATR72-500 as well as three Boeing 777-300ER and two Boeing 787-8 on routes to regional destinations and longhaul flights to mainland France, India and Thailand.
To date, Airbus reports over 160 A220s have been delivered, operating routes in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa, proving the great versatility of the single-aisle aircraft.