Final Airbus A318 Operated By A North American Airline Retired
Frontier was actually the launch customer of the Airbus A318 in 2003, but not the only North American airline to order the type. America West had also ordered the A318, but later converted their orders to larger A319s and A320s. TWA also ordered the A318, but never saw delivery before declaring chapter 11 and purchase by American Airlines.
When initially designed, the Airbus A318 made sense as a larger regional jet. Once jet fuel prices went through the roof, however, the A318 made less and less sense. Requiring the same amount of crew on board as the A319, weighing just 3,000 pounds less and having only 85% the seating capacity of the A319, the A318 just couldn’t find its place in the market. The introduction of much more efficient and economical regional jets such as the Embraer E-Jet series and larger CRJs sealed the A318s fate.
The A318 does have one trick up its sleeve that still makes it valuable to a few airlines. The A318 is the largest commercial aircraft certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency for steep approach operations. The A318’s steep approach procedure enables a 5.5 degree descent angle, rather than the standard 3 degrees. This trick is particularly useful for British Airways, who operates a pair of A318′s (G-EUNA & G-EUNB) out of London City Airport in downtown London to New York JFK in an all business class configuration. This service is thought of as a Concord replacement, using the same flight numbers.
Elsewhere, the A318 can still be found operating commercially with Air France, Avianca and Avianca Brazil, LAN Chile, and TAROM in Romania, as well as privately. Similar to the A318, the Boeing 737-600 suffered the same fate as the A318, with only 69 airframes produced. The 737-600, however, can be found operating within North America with Westjet.
So long, Frontier baby bus, we hardly knew you!