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Correction – Airbus’ backlog of its least-popular neo version, the A319neo, has been further reduced. The airframer has deleted orders for two aircraft from Air Cote D’Ivoire in its September backlog. This brings the backlog to just 75 aircraft, with ten A319neo’s now delivered. Conflicting fortunes for Airbus A319neo.

The A319neo has been the victim of an industry trend: upgauging. Where its predecessor, the A319ceo, has been hugely successful with 1.486 sales, the neo version has always struggled to attract customers. Airlines preferred the bigger A320neo and even that one is too small for many airlines, who prefer the economies of the even-larger A321neo, LR, or XLR.

It shows: the A319neo attracted just 85 sales, of which eight are for the ACJ319 corporate version. The Airbus order book shows five aircraft on order from Air China, which all have to be delivered. China Southern Airlines has taken delivery of four since February this year out of thirteen on order. The biggest A319neo customer will be Spirit Airlines, with 31 on order since signing a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2019. There are also 27 aircraft in the book for undisclosed customers.

Until last month, Air Cote D’Ivoire also wanted the A319neo. The Abidjan-based airline operates a fleet of three A319ceo’s, two A320ceo’s, and a single A320neo. In April 2016, it placed an order for two A320ceo and A320neo aircraft but changed this in January 2019 to one A320neo and two A319neo’s. The A320neo was delivered in February 2021, but the smaller siblings never entered the production stage and are now no longer included.

The same faith seemed to happen to two A319neo’s for Tibet Airlines, but September has changed this. Airbus said it delivered the first of two aircraft on order on the 26th. Initially, we believed this to be MSN10607, which was spotted by the author at Airbus Hamburg in June (main picture), fully covered by protective material and without CFM engines, which could be explained by the supply chain issues at the engine maker. But the aircraft was spotted by others today in the same status. The first delivery must have been MSN11046 then, but only a contractual one as the aircraft is still in Hamburg.

With 120-150 seats, the A319neo has in-house competition from the similar sized A220-300, which makes it unlikely that the neo will attract new customers anytime soon. Except if you look for a 120-150 seater with more range: at 6.850 kilometers, the heavier neo outperforms the -300, which flies only 6.297km.

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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