Airbus is flying a luxurious version of its new A220 into the business jet market, and the first customers have already lined up with orders.
This week Airbus announced that its Airbus Corporate Jets division would offer the ACJ TwoTwenty, a move it says creates a whole new market segment, the “Xtra Large Bizjet.” It also announced that it had its first six orders in hand.
Commercial airline passengers who fly aboard the A220, which the company builds in Canada and Alabama, get a perfectly nice single-aisle jetliner that can seat from 100 to about 150 passengers. Those lucky enough to ride in a TwoTwenty will enjoy VIP accommodations for up to 18 people, with amenities that include “large full lie-flat seats, a US-king size bed, a standing rainshower, a humidifying system for well-being on board and leading edge connectivity.”
A flexible cabin catalogue divides the cabin into six units and lets buyers mix and match. Options include a master bedroom with en suite bathroom, a cinema lounge, a dining room for eight and various lounge and conference room units.
Despite the “Xtra Large” terminology, the TwoTwenty certainly won’t be the largest corporate jet out there. Boeing and Airbus both offer corporate versions of larger products. In Airbus’ case those range from A320 variants up to the ACJ350XWB (Extra Wide Body), which packs 25 passengers into a fuselage that can carry 350 in commercial versions.
Airbus’ pitch is that “While occupying the same parking space and being able to take off from the same airports as competing business jets, the ACJ TwoTwenty will offer three times more cabin space, yet with a third less operating costs.” The idea seems to be that even though it has roots in the commercial jetliner world, it’s still small enough to compete with purpose-built corporate jets on their own turf.
According to information released by Airbus, Swiss company Comlux has ordered two TwoTwentys and undisclosed customers have ordered four more. There’s an understanding that Comlux will outfit the cabins of the first 15 TwoTwentys at its completion center in Indianapolis.
Prices weren’t announced. In fall 2019, when Gulfstream unveiled its new flagship G700, its list price was pegged at about $75 million; it was described as a rival to Bombardier’s $73 million Global 7500. At the time, Gulfstream described it as the largest plane in the private jet industry.
Industry terminology is flexible and matching “private jets” to “business jets” to “bizliners” may not be an apples-to-apples comparison. But the TwoTwenty certainly is a step up in scale. Its cabin is more than 20 feet longer than those on the G700 or the Global 7500.
Publications such as Barron’s and Business insider estimate the cost of an ACJ320neo — the business version of an A320 — as around $110 million. The TwoTwenty price tag likely falls in the $75 to $110 million range.
Bottom line: If you’re counting on a lottery win to pay for one, you’d better play the Powerball.
In practical terms, the demand for the TwoTwenty bolsters the case that prospects are bright for the A220 family over the next few years. That’s good news for Alabama, where Airbus has added a Final Assembly Line to produce the jets. The first Alabama-built A220 is slated for delivery later this year.
There’s already been widespread industry speculation that smaller, more efficient long-range jets will be in demand as the industry recovers from the slump in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even in a bad time, these are the products to be building,” Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Mobile facility, said as he led a tour of the new assembly line in September.
The first TwoTwenty is expected to enter service in 2023, according to Airbus.