JetBlue Airways has signed a long-term maintenance agreement with Pratt & Whitney to maintain the airline's PW1500G geared turbofans (GTFs) that will power its just-ordered Airbus A220s, and plans to take bids on heavy airframe maintenance.
"We have a long-term fight hour agreement in place with Pratt & Whitney that gives us some [cost] certainty," JetBlue CFO Steve Priest said on a July 11 analyst call discussing the A220 order, adding that the airframe request for proposals was in the works.
JetBlue on July 10 became the first announced customer of the re-branded, and now Airbus-controlled, Bombardier C Series, ordering 60 and taking options on 60 more. The aircraft will serve as one-for-one replacements for the carrier's 60 Embraer E190s.
The deal specifies the larger A220-300--or former CS300--but JetBlue has the option to choose some A220-100s as part of the deal. It has not announced a seating configuration for the new aircraft.
The agreement comes on the heels of April's announcement that Pratt will maintain the carrier's PW1100G-JMs that will power its 85 A320neo-family aircraft, including 13 spare engines. It is part of JetBlue's bigger-picture effort to both lower costs and make them more predictable. The airline's goal is to keep cost per available seat-mile (CASM) growth 0-1% annually during the next three years. The figures assumed no fleet changes, so adding the A220 and phasing out the E190 will affect figures in the next few years, as impairment and other transition costs are absorbed.
"As part of structured cost program, one of biggest opportunities was looking at our maintenance costs," Priest said. The A320neo engine contract is one direct result, "and we took the same approach with" the A220s.
While the airline's fleet review extended beyond maintenance costs, the needed work on its E190 fleet weighed heavily in the carrier's decision to pick a new-generation aircraft rather than keep its current fleet of 60 E190s. JetBlue calculates that the A220-300 will cost 40% less per seat on maintenance than the E190s.
The carrier's A220 delivery schedule projects the first five aircraft arriving in 2020, followed by four in 2021, and eight in 2022. Deliveries then ramp up to 19 in 2023 and 22 and 2024, with the final two in the firm-order block coming in 2025. All will be built at Airbus's Mobile, Ala., A220 facility, which is slated to open in 2020. JetBlue's A321neos are built on the A320-family line there.
JetBlue plans to phase out its E190s as its A220s come into the fleet, with a full phase-out expected by 2025. It owns 30 and leases 30 of its E190s.
As part of the A220 deal, JetBlue also modified its A320 fleet plan, converting its 25 A320neos on order to A321neos and modifying the delivery schedule. It moved two A321neo deliveries into 2020 from 2021, and pushed out seven slated for 2021 and 2022 to 2024. Its plans to take six more in 2018 and 13 in 2019 remain unchanged. A321neo deliveries in 2020 are now 15, followed by 16 in 2021, 15 in 2022, 14 in 2023, and 12 in 2024.