Airlines looking for greater access to airports with short runways or steep approaches, or aiming to benefit from lower fees and charges at airports with stringent emissions/noise restrictions, are looking increasingly toward crossover narrowbody jets as a solution. 

The benchmark for airports requiring performance beyond the norm is arguably London City (LCY), with both an increased glideslope and a short runway. Aircraft manufacturers have even tailored their designs to enable airlines to fly there—Embraer E-Jets and the Bombardier CS100 being the obvious examples. Plans to certify the Sukhoi Superjet 100 for LCY are underway. 

The CS100 joined the airport’s roster of certified aircraft in 2017. With the E-Jets E2 family to come, London City’s head of communications, Charlotte Beeching, is looking forward to the variety of new routes that the crossover types will bring. 

“These aircraft are more fuel efficient and so can fly further, opening up new destinations as far afield as the Gulf, Middle East, Russia and East Coast U.S.,” notes Beeching. “The ability to reach new destinations will make it easier for London companies to do business.” 

Emissions and noise do cause concern in LCY’s locality, and the airport team communicates continually with the local community, including informing them about the advances crossover jets bring to such sensitive areas. “The London City Airport Consultative Committee includes representatives from neighboring boroughs and is kept fully informed and involved in developments at the airport,” Beeching confirms. 

Swiss International Air Lines was the first carrier to operate the CS100 at LCY. Karin Muller, the carrier’s head of media relations and online communications, explains why the type was the best choice to replace its Avro RJs: “The C Series offers a high degree of flexibility to our flight operations,” she says. “With this aircraft, Swiss is able to operate on longer routes [such as Moscow], as well as at operationally challenging airports such as London City or Florence, [Italy]. 

“To and from LCY, the C Series allows us to transport more passengers than with any other aircraft. We can offer more seats on this important route with the same amount of flights. In addition, the C Series sets new benchmarks in comfort, economic and ecological terms. For example, it is 10-15 dB quieter than comparable aircraft types, which is very important for such a densely populated area as London City.” 

Reduced noise and emissions levels will also help Swiss at home, where related fees and charges can vary considerably. At Zurich Airport, for example, the daytime noise charge (per landing) ranges from 0-2,000 Swiss francs ($2,016) across five noise categories—and the C Series sits in the lowest of those. Surcharges with an even greater range of prices (up to 3,000 Swiss francs) apply outside the daytime hours. 

The Nordic countries are also renowned for monitoring emissions and noise very carefully. Embraer E190-E2 launch operator Wideroe can therefore expect environmental benefits—and consequently monetary benefits—from its new aircraft.

“In Norway in particular, there is a lot of focus on carbon footprint and how to reduce emissions,” reports Silje Brandvoll, vice president communications and public relations at Wideroe. “We also see a big change in how taxes are presented, with a focus on how to use this as an aid in reducing emissions. The investment in the new, lower-emission E-Jet E2 is therefore a natural choice when trying to adapt to future rules, regulations and tax regimes. The E2 has more than 16% lower fuel burn than other aircraft in the same category and considerably lower noise, [too].” 

Like its predecessor, the E190-E2 will be able to operate steep approaches and on shorter runways, many of which feature among Wideroe’s destinations. Brandvoll confirms that calculations are being made to decide which airports in the network will feature E2 service. 

In Canada, Porter Airlines is campaigning to fly CS100s from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Brad Cicero, director of communications and public affairs for Porter, highlights the value to both the carrier and the community that the use of this crossover narrowbody jet would bring. 

“In conjunction with the runway extension and CS100 introduction at Billy Bishop, we were proposing a series of transcontinental destinations,” he says. “This includes Vancouver and Los Angeles in the west; year-round nonstop service to St. John’s, [Newfoundland], and Halifax, [Nova Scotia], in the east; south to Miami and the islands; and points in between,” explains Cicero. 

“The annual economic impact of Billy Bishop today is C$2.1 billion ($1.6 billion),” he continues. “The CS100 flights would introduce at least another $250 million in annual spending based on a city-led study.” Also, a potential 2,000 new jobs could be created, including 1,000 at Porter, and another 1,000 in the hospitality and entertainment industries. 

“The business plan also contemplates the benefits to the connecting markets that Porter serves from Toronto. Many were openly supportive, knowing that it provides opportunities to connect better with other cities, thereby improving economic development and tourism opportunities,” Cicero emphasizes. As yet, however, the authorities have not crossed over to Porter’s side.