Yesterday, given this quiet time of the year, we shared some data on the state of fuel burn among US airlines’ single-aisle aircraft. This is the chart we shared. We pointed out that there are three aircraft at or exceeding the 100 seat mile/gallon of fuel.  These are highlighted.

This set off an interesting conversation. The chart does not differentiate between the airline types, i.e. LCC and Network. This is a fair point.  There was also a question about the Embraer E2 – none are in US service yet and therefore are not reported.  Although we are tracking the US DoT data for Breeze, the airline has not shown up in the reports we track.

However, let’s see what happens when we take the chart above and separate out LCCs from Network airlines. First the LCCs. The chart is vastly different from the one above. What see now is the impact of JetBlue and its performance on the A321neo and A220s. The size of the ball is the number of flights, so a bigger ball means more flights.  The large ball for the 73G (737-700) is driven by Southwest.  

The chart is, honestly, a bit of a shocker. We were not expecting such a large change.  A big influence on the seat mile/gallon is obviously the number of seats. The table below lists the seats on the A321s for US LCCs.  Among US LCCs, only JetBlue operates the A321neo at present and they seat 197, about 12% more than its A321ceos.  

If we focus on JetBlue using the chart format, we see this. JetBlue has 12% more seats on their A321neo and improved seat miles/gallon by 206%!  As the ball size indicates, the airline has few A321neos and they are used on Trans-Atlantic service.  Even with these caveats, JetBlue is seeing some spectacular performance in fuel burn on the A321neo.  The A220-300 is also doing an amazing job with excellent fuel burn compared to the top chart.

Next, let’s look at US Network carriers.  The A321neo is still off by itself at 109 seat miles/gallon.  Note no US Network airline operates the A320neo. In the US at present, only LCCs do. 

Meanwhile, to provide some context for the JetBlue A321neo performance, readers might find the next table interesting. Here we have seat miles/gallon for the A321neos in US operation. The darker green, the better.  JetBlue is doing exceptionally among great numbers, all of which are over 100seat miles/gallon. 

Another aircraft that is doing well is the A220-300 and which is operated by two US airlines, JetBlue and Delta.  Take a look at the performance of JetBlue compared to Delta.  Note Delta seats 130 and JetBlue seats 140 and this plays a significant role in the difference. But still, that is some gap.

Finally, to provide additional context, here’s what we see for the US MAX and NEO fleets in 2021 to date, in seat miles/gallon.  There are caveats like segments being operated that impact the numbers.  This is could be why Southwest’s MAX8 numbers quite different from other MAX8 operators.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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