There is discussion elsewhere on A319NEO and separately the densification by airlines of single isle aeroplanes. Adding this to the sales of A319s into the second user market, it seems that in quick time many European airlines will have a mainline fleet going down to 180 seat aeroplanes, with nothing below.
This is the gap in the market correctly identified for the C Series. For the nation which produced the Avro Arrow, this should not be a surprise. Luck and the USA were against them with that brilliant effort, but this time round the C Series has escaped a similar fate.
So what market is the C Series aimed at today? It is the below180 seat markets seemingly being vacated by many airlines. Is this the regional market in the context of geographical European domestic regions? Such as the UK’s domestic Northern Powerhouse , Midlands Engine, the Southwest, Wales and the Scottish Highlands? I feel sure that there are many equivalent domestic regions elsewhere in geographical Europe which would benefit from links to geographic European hub and non-hub airports.
The latest Gov UK stuff on new runway capacity (i.e. Heathrow v Gatwick) says that at least 14 domestic routes could be served from an expanded Heathrow, compared to the eight routes currently in operation. The 8 domestic routes operating today are Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle. The at least additional 6 are Belfast International, Durham Tees Valley, Humberside, Liverpool, Newquay, and Prestwick.
On the other hand, UK is starting to see the arrival of huge new fleets of modern railway trains to run on existing and new tracks. These are expected to increase the market share of long distance rail. In the case of the East Coast Main Line (London to Edinburgh, with the many stops between) from say 20% to nearer 50%. The Channel Tunnel is the exemplar.
In terms of UK domestic airlines, frequency with 180 seaters will therefore tend to fall, but the lowest sensible frequency needs to be 2 or perhaps 3 per day. This UK regional market needs the C Series. So does geographic Europe’s regions, where trans-national rail is an existing competitor.
So why not a new pan-European airline without any historic baggage of poor labour practices and old fashioned outlook to fill this growing void across Europe? This airline might be called ‘Regio’. It would initially need a substantial fleet of C Series, which would be set to lead a busy and long life. Who is best fitted to initiate Regio? Answers on a post card please.