Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. At the ceremony, The Cranky Flier will award the best in US/Canada airline network planning. The previous two Featured Maps looked at the nominees for the two Sexiest New Route categories, both Short-Haul and Long-Haul.
Today we'll look at the Best Aircraft-Enabled Opportunity category, which for me is the most interesting category because it pushes the economic limits. Not like the Sexiest New Route – Long-Haul category, which includes some world-spanning routes that push the envelope, but more modest routes that only make economic sense to fly with small-yet-capable aircraft. Sometimes technological advances aren't just about the biggest and baddest.
It's no surprise to see the Airbus A220-300 appear twice on this list. Carrying 120-150 passengers in a 2-class configuration with a range of 3,913 mi / 6,297 km, the aircraft is perfect for new long, thin routes. (The smailler A220-100, which seats 100-120, has a slightly longer range of 3,971 mi / 6,390 km.) Air Canada puts 137 seats on theirs (including 12 premium seats) while Breeze has just 126 seats thanks to a generous 36-seat premium cabin.
American's entry, operated by Envoy Air with an Embraer E175, uses the aircraft's performance not for range but rather for a short runway. The single runway at Ian Fleming International Airport, which serves Ocho Ríos, was just 3,000 ft / 914 m until it was lengthened in 2010. Even now, at 4,769 ft / 1,454 m, it's a fairly short runway, though for the short hop to Miami it's no challenge for the Embraer E175.
A step up from the A220-300, the Airbus A321LR that SAS will fly on their nominee seats 180-220 in a 2-class configuration (SAS puts just 157 seats on their examples, in a 22/12/123 configuration) with a range up to 4,603 mi / 7,408 km. Three Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs) add extra fuel relative to an A321neo for extra range. SAS flies the Airbus A330-300 from Newark to their hub at Stockholm but with 262-266 seats the aircraft is too big for the thin route to Göteborg. With over 100 fewer seats, the A321 is a better fit and the A321LR version provides the necessary range.
Icelandair has long operated a fleet built around the Boeing 757 but the 183-184 seats in Icelandair's version of the 757-200 may be too much to break the ice in a new market. With 160 seats, the 737 MAX 8 is a more suitable size and offers significantly better range than the pre-MAX 737s that Icelandair once flew.
Today's Featured Map shows these five nominees for the Best Aircraft-Enabled Opportunity category.
(If you're at the event please look for me and say hi!)
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