New 140-Seat JetBlue Aircraft Makes First Appearance On Nantucket

David Creed •

JetBlue A220
JetBlue's new 140 seat A220 aircraft will begin its routes to and from Nantucket in September

JetBlue’s new 140-seat aircraft, the Airbus A220-300, made its first-ever appearance on the island on Saturday after JetBlue and Nantucket Memorial Airport coordinated a test operation of the Airbus involving just the aircraft’s crew to familiarize ground and airport staff with its parking and logistics.

The A220 is replacing JetBlue's fleet of 100-seat E190's, which are now over two decades old. The A220 has an overall length of 38.7 meters and a wing span of 35.1 meters. Those numbers surpass the E190s length (35.1 meters) and wing span (28.7 meters). However, while the A220 is larger than the E190, it has a smaller environmental footprint.

"I think the knee-jerk reaction that everyone has whether it's JetBlue or whether it's corporate aircraft is that big is bad. Big burns more fuel. Big causes more emissions. Big is new and new is efficient, burns less fuel and is quieter,” Nantucket Memorial Airport manager Noah Karberg said. “It is everything that the community wants to see in an aircraft. I was talking with the chief pilot for the A220 line and station feature underneath the tail of that aircraft when it was parked here for the test stop. The APU was running, and we were having conversation just like we are here. It is incredibly quiet, incredibly efficient. I think that this being on our route is a great win for Nantucket.”

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According to Nantucket Airport, the A220 burns 20 percent less fuel than the E190 over the same stage length and they confirmed that the engines and auxiliary power unit (APU) are quieter than the E190 and release less emissions.

“The A220 engines are able to burn a 50 percent blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and will be capable of using 100 percent SAF by 2030,” the airport said in a statement.

Karberg said he doesn't anticipate any changes to the flight schedules as these new aircraft are incorporated into JetBlue’s fleet and that larger aircraft arriving to Nantucket doesn’t necessarily mean more people will be coming to the island. He said the aircraft currently operate on average with roughly 70 percent passenger capacity when arriving to the island, and that it remains to be seen whether JetBlue will see an increase in its passenger volume with the new Airbus aircraft.

“The limit on travel to Nantucket is not available airline seats, it’s bedrooms,” Karberg said. “The aircraft is being placed on the Nantucket route not for the purpose of increasing passenger volume, but for a fleet-wide transition. However, airlines are in the business of putting passengers into seats. It will be interesting to see how the airlines manage their yields (fare revenue per mile) and load factors (percent of seats filled), and how that affects overall travel dynamics to the island.”

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The A220 will begin to rotate into the regular Nantucket schedule in September, however it is likely that the airport sees occasional maintenance/irregular operations of the A220 prior to that date.

JetBlue announced the delivery of their first of 70 A220s back in January of 2021. You can learn more about these aircraft here.

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