- Air Canada took delivery of its newest aircraft, the Airbus A220, in December and unveiled it to the public on January 15.
- The airline plans to deploy the aircraft domestically and to US destinations including Seattle, New York, and San Jose, California.
- The aircraft has a long history that saw majority ownership in the program acquired by Airbus after it was designed by Canada’s Bombardier.
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Air Canada unveiled on Wednesday its first Airbus A220-300 aircraft, showing off the Canadian aeroplane that was bought by a European manufacturer that plans to also build them in the US.
The aircraft is one of the most controversial in North America because of Boeing’s resistance to and interference in the plane’s sales in the US market. The manufacturer unsuccessfully attempted to block the purchase of the aircraft by Delta Air Lines, which had been shifting more toward Airbus products in its medium- and long-haul fleets with arrivals such as the Airbus A321 and A350-900 XWB.
Though Boeing failed to convince trade regulators of its case, the negative decision opened the door for Airbus to take a majority stake in the program and rebrand it as its own. It was then that the Bombardier C Series became the Airbus A220, though most operators still keep the C Series name on the entryways to its aircraft.
Once it took delivery of the aircraft at the Bombardier-Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, near Montreal, Air Canada became the second North American carrier behind Delta Air Lines to operate the Airbus A220, showing national pride doesn’t always come first in aviation. Delta uses the aircraft on a variety of domestic routes with one of its longest being New York to Salt Lake City.
JetBlue Airways placed a large order for the aircraft last year, opting to go for an all-Airbus fleet rather than continue with Embraer.
Air Canada received its first of 45 Airbus A220 aircraft in December, opting to purchase the larger A220-300 variant for its mainline fleet.
The fleet will be based in Air Canada’s central Canadian hubs of Montreal and Toronto, flying both domestically and internationally to cities such as New York.
Air Canada also plans to use the plane to launch new routes from Montreal and Toronto to as far as Seattle and San Jose, California, respectively.
The aircraft was delivered in Air Canada’s new black, white, and red livery, a throwback to one of its former paint schemes.
The A220’s interior allows for a normal-size business class cabin in a 2-2 configuration, with Air Canada planning to fit its A220s with 12 business-class seats.
The economy-class cabin will have 125 seats, configured in a 3-2 configuration that’s ideal for couples or companions travelling together.
Its cockpit is state of the art, with side sticks replacing normal yokes, or control wheels, and screens taking the place of many instruments.
One of the rear lavatories of the aircraft features a window.
The aircraft gained its controversial status when Boeing attempted to block the sale of the aircraft to Delta, saying subsidies from the Canadian government enabled Bombardier to lower its prices.
The US government initially sided with Boeing, proposing a nearly 300% tariff on imports of the aircraft from Canada, which prompted Airbus to step in.
The European aircraft manufacturer took a 50.01% stake in the program, which is why the aircraft is now called the Airbus A220. Airbus slapped its name on it and will build future A220s destined for American airlines at a new assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, alongside the Airbus A320 family.
The US International Trade Commission ultimately ruled against the tariff, but Airbus’ investment, rebranding, and new production facility remained.
Some of the largest operators of the aircraft are in Europe, with Swiss International Air Lines being the largest operator of the Airbus A220, according to fleet data from Planespotters.net.
Air Baltic isn’t far behind, primarily using its Airbus A220 aircraft on regional routes across Europe with the goal of operating the aircraft exclusively.
Despite Boeing’s efforts, Delta Air Lines debuted its A220 fleet in February after a brief delay because of the 2018-19 government shutdown. Its first two routes were from New York to Boston and Dallas.
Operators of the aircraft still keep the C Series name on its aircraft at the boarding door, reminding every passenger who steps aboard of the aircraft’s controversial past.
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