On May 4th, an unusual aircraft took off from Seletar Airport’s runway 21; an airBaltic Airbus A220-300, registration number YL-ABH, performing two demonstration flights over the South China Sea, as part of Airbus’ A220 Asia-Pacific Demonstration Tour. This tour took the aircraft from Sydney to Singapore (with a stopover in Darwin). Tomorrow, the aircraft will depart for Hanoi, before heading over to Tokyo, performing more demonstration flights and showcases to interested customers. With such an extensive tour planned out for this one aircraft, this could signal a very strong interest from carriers in the Asia-Pacific region for this amazing aircraft.
FlightRadar24 tracks showed the brand new A220 departed south from Runway 21, flying over the Pasir Panjang and Sentosa coastline, before turning east over Batam and flying a long loop over the South China Sea. The aircraft then turned back towards Singapore, flying back over Tanjung Pinang and Batam, before turning north on a track along Runway 03 of Seletar Airport. In the morning flight, BT9813, the flight then performed a visual downwind landing, flying parallel over the Yishun neighborhood before executing a Kai-Tek style steep turn to line up on Runway 21. For the afternoon flight, the landing sequence was a lot simpler: the aircraft executed a direct straight in approach to Runway 03
About the A220
The Airbus A220 is an incredible machine; as covered in my previous article, with major advantages over the current dominant narrowbodies - the Boeing 737 series and the Airbus A320 series. Her extremely large windows and large cabin spacing offers unrivaled cabin space for narrow bodies, easily surpassing that of the 737 and the A320. However, her key advantage lies in her range and her slightly lower capacity. While her range is somewhat comparable, or slightly longer than her Boeing 737 MAX and A320neo counterparts, the A220 is able to effectively capture the low- to medium-demand long range routes. For such routes, many carriers found it difficult to fill using the Boeing 737s or the A320s, but the smaller regional jets simply do not have the range capabilities; the A220 on the other hand is easily capable to meet such requirements, complimented with her highly efficient Pratt and Whitney PW1500G engines, making the A220 one of the quietest aircraft around.
An A220 Future for Scoot and Singapore Airlines?
While it is still too early to tell if such a future will materialize, it will definitely be a sight to behold for aviation spotters of an A220 decked out in the playfully yellow Scoot livery or the classic gold and blue cheatlines of Singapore Airlines. And indeed, such a potentiality will open new lower pax longer range routes, like Koh Samui, parts of Northern Australia and the smaller airports across Southeast Asia. This would be a future a lot of us would be interested to see. Fingers Crossed.