The news that several Frontier Airlines A318s built just three years ago are being parted-out and scrapped led to a (private) discussion about why such young aircraft would be worth more as parts than as whole aircraft. Compared to other aircraft of similar capacity (Frontier has 120 seats on theirs) the A318 is expensive to operate. The Embraer 195, for example, offers a similar number of seats in typical configurations but the A318's Operating Empty Weight (OEW: the airframe weight) is 36% higher. A318 pilots tend to be paid at the higher rates of the larger A320 family members, too.
There are, however, some missions for which the A318 is uniquely qualified. One such mission is the twice-daily trans-Atlantic service British Airways offers between London City Airport (LCY) and New York's JFK. LCY requires a steep 5.5 degree approach for noise abatement reasons, plus its singly runway is just 1,508 meters (4,948 feet) long. These restrictions mean few commercial airliners are capable of operating at LCY, and of them the A318 is both the largest and the only one with the range to cross the Atlantic non-stop. (Due to the short runway, flights to JFK stop at Shannon for fuel and to allow passengers to pre-clear US customs.)
It should be noted that the A318s British Airways uses for flights between LCY and JFK are equipped with just 32 business class seats, barely 25% of the capacity of the A318s Frontier is retiring.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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