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July 22, 2024

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Heart Aerospace announced that JSK has signed a LoI for up to 100 ES-30s. The deal includes 50 purchased and 50 option ES-30s.  JSX is the biggest US public charter carrier.  It has also attracted all sorts of attention from the majors, attention it does not want.   That is a sign it’s doing well and disrupting things.

Today’s order of the Heart Aerospace ES-30 hybrid-electric aircraft exemplifies our commitment to customer-friendly, carbon-reducing solutions that will offer the lower costs essential to providing vital air service to small communities across the country,” says Alex Wilcox, JSX CEO and co-founder. “Heart is a visionary organization that will help JSX serve smaller communities, weaving sustainable regional air travel back into the fabric of American commerce and freedom of movement.”

Heart’s ES-30 is a 30-seater with a range of 400 km or up to 800 km with 25 passengers.

We’re really excited to be part of JSX commitment toward sustainable regional air travel,” said Simon Newitt, President and Chief Commercial Officer at Heart Aerospace. “The ES-30, with its competitive economics and green credentials, fits very well with JSX’s vision, and we see not only the opportunity to reconnect many regional routes lost over the years, but also open many more new ones. We believe this transformation will be good for the consumer, good for the economy as well as for the environment.”

This deal brings Heart’s backlog to 250 firm orders and 120 options. Including the LOI from JSX, the company also has letters of intent for 191 airplanes.

This news is important because JSX has a proven disruptive model. Please don’t take our word for it.  It has a fight on its hands from the airline industry. American Airlines is also after them. JSX operates a fleet of Embraer ERJ-135s and ERJ-145s to 24 destinations.

But the Heart deal is not the only one announced.  It has fleet plans for up to 330 hybrid-electric aircraft. US-based Electra and France’s Aura Aero also won deals. There are up to 150 Aura Aero Era 19-seat aircraft and 82 of Electra’s nine-seat eSTOL in deals.

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The first deliveries are set for 2028.  What does JSX’s move mean?  Hybrid-electric aircraft are expected to be highly disruptive and offer significantly lower operating costs.  Fair enough, but Mr. Wilcox made this statement, which is the crux of the fleet plan in our view: “As the network airlines order ever-larger aircraft, it is inevitable that more and more small markets will be abandoned.”

Over 300 US communities have lost air service. Regional jets don’t offer the economics anymore.  But these hybrids probably will.  These aircraft’s green credentials are excellent, but this is not the critical advantage. Airline operations are about economics; US regional flying is the toughest market.

JSX is likely to succeed where the majors have abandoned markets.  Why else are the majors after them?

Heart’s Simon Newitt concurs, “We see not only the opportunity to reconnect many regional routes lost over the years but also open many more new ones.”  The 19-seaters and nine-seaters enable JSX to reach the tiniest markets, probably at lower operating costs than US regional airlines.

The status quo never welcomes disruption.  JSX placed a big bet, which looks rational for now. Let’s see how the industry reacts – because they have to.

author avatar
Addison Schonland
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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