There are two engine options both of which look pretty similar from outside the nacelles. These are the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G and the CFM International LEAP. In comparison is is clear to see how much greater the diameter of the new engines is compared to those of an A320CEO. Fortunately for Airbus the high undercarriage of the A320 design has meant far less modification has been needed to fit the new engines than Boeing has faced on its 737MAX series.
Regardless the new engines and Sharklets are estimated to decrease fuel consumption by 15%, lower operating costs by 8%, decrease emissions by 10% and increase range by around 900km. It's not hard to see why airlines have been falling over themselves to order the A320NEO range (except for the smallest A319NEO) when the existing A320CEO is considered already to be an efficient type. By October Airbus was approaching a staggering 5,000 orders for the new family at a time when less than 40 were in operational service!
In general the A320NEO programme has run reasonably well, however it has been far from completely plain sailing as the initial launch customer Qatar Airways refused to take its first aircraft and then subsequently cancelled the entire 50 plane order. Qatar's CEO Akbar Al Baker is notoriously difficult but it is fair to say that the initial performance of the P&W engines has not been fully up to spec, which has an impact especially in hot conditions such as in Qatar.
Fortunately for Airbus Lufthansa stepped in to the gap to become the launch customer and accepted its first aircraft, D-AINA, on January 25th. Subsequent deliveries have been heavily in favour of the Indian LCC IndiGo with its competitor GoAir also an early customer. All three will get upgrades to their NEO engines but there is no doubt that Airbus has had to handle a serious backlog of completed but engineless airframes. This clearly visible in the delivery list when you look at the rather random order of construction numbers that have been delivered. By the end of November A320NEOs had been delivered to Brasil (Avianca and LATAM), India (IndiGo, GoAir), Kazakhstan (Air Astana), Malaysia (AirAsia), Mexico (Volaris, Viva Aerobus), Turkey (Pegasus) and USA (Frontier, Spirit). As befits the modern state of the airline industry Lufthansa is very much an outlier with most airframes going to LCCs.
The most glaring omission of nations not having received any NEOs is obviously China. Considering the huge growth of the Chinese market and the massive orders for new narrowbodies it is very surprising that none of the many A320 operators in the country received an aircraft early on. That is about to change however with the first aircraft almost ready for delivery to China Southern. This aircraft (B-8545) is technically owned by AerCap being part of a major 24 frame order that China Southern placed through the lessor in January 2015 many months before the NEO first flew. All 24 aircraft will be equipped with the troubled P&W1100G engine and will be delivered between December 2016 and 2019. B-8545 first flew on July 1, 2016 and is scheduled for arrival in Guangzhou on December 15 following the anticipated handover ceremony in Toulouse two days earlier. Even prior to the AerCAp deal China Southern had in May 2014 finalised an order for 50 A320NEOs (and 30 A320CEOs) giveing it a huge backlog for the new type.
It will not have technically been the first A320NEO in the country however as in April 2016 a test aircraft, D-AVVB, visited Lijiang and Daocheng Yading to test out operations in high altitude conditions. These China Southern NEOs will be far from alone in the years to come with Airbus already having received significant orders from Spring Airlines (60), China Eastern (70), Shenzhen Airlines (60) and various Chinese leasing companies.
As deliveries ramp up you can expect that a substantial portion of all NEOs will find themselves flying in Chinese skies and from next year the Tianjin Airbus assembly line will also begin completing A320NEOs too make this a reality. It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact the Comac C919 has on the A320 (and 737MAX) however even if it does the size of the Chinese market almost guarantees thousands of NEOs in service over the next decade with Chinese airlines.
China Southern A320neos. a380.boards.net
AerCap Leases Twenty-Four A320neos to China Southern, Asia's Largest Airline. Aercap
First A320neo for China Southern Takes to the Skies. China Aviation Daily
China Southern to Take Delivery of First A320neo in Mid-December. China Aviation Daily
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: