- On Thursday, the Airbus A220 jetliner official entered commercial service in North America with Delta Air Lines, with flights from New York to Boston and Dallas.
- The A220 began life as the Bombardier C Series but was rebranded after Airbus took over the program.
- The state-of-the-art Canadian jetliner was also the subject of a trade dispute launched by Boeing in 2017.
On Thursday, the Airbus A220 jetliner official entered commercial service in North America with Delta Air Lines.
Delta’s relationship with the A220, formerly known as the Bombardier C Series, started in 2016 when the carrier announced an order for 75 of the jetliners in a deal worth as much as $US5.6 billion. The order made Delta the plane’s North American launch customer.
In April 2017, Boeing filed a complaint with US Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission alleging that the Delta C Series order was made possible only by abnormally low prices supported by Canadian government subsidies.
The US International Trade Commission agreed and in September of that year recommended a 219.63% tariff. A week later, the Commerce Department added a 79.82% tariff.
Bombardier and Delta both argued that Boeing’s business couldn’t have been hurt by the deal because Boeing didn’t have a product in its lineup similar in capacity to the C Series.
In total, Bombardier and Delta faced a 299.45% tariff on any Canadian-built C Series plane exported to the US.
Facing the possibility of losing the most important order in the C Series program’s history, Bombardier turned to Boeing’s greatest foe, Airbus.
Less than a month after the tariff was announced, Bombardier handed 50.01% of its prized airliner program to Airbus with zero up-front cash investment coming from the European aviation giant.
In the summer of 2018, the Bombardier C Series was officially rebranded as the Airbus A220.
So what’s all the fuss about?
The A220 is a state-of-the-art single-aisle airliner. The Canadian-built jet is a clean-sheet design that incorporates the latest in commercial aviation technology, like a carbon-composite fuselage and fuel-sipping Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines.
The plane, which entered service with Swiss in 2016, has earned praise from its operators for its exceptional fuel efficiency.
The A220 lives in the 100-to-150-seat airliner market, a segment that Airbus and Boeing had effectively abandoned for a decade.
So nearly three years, a trade dispute, and a name change later, the jet is finally ready to fly with Delta Air Lines.
Here’s a closer look at the inaugural flight of Delta’s Airbus A220.
After three years of waiting, it was finally time for the first commercial flight of Delta’s new Airbus A220. Delta’s first A220 service, Flight 744, from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Boston Logan, was set to take off at 6 a.m. To be safe, we arrived at the airport shortly after 4 a.m. — so early that neither the Delta counter …
… nor the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint was open for business.
After 20 minutes, we quickly made it through the security checkpoint and to the gate.
At the gate was the plane we’ve all been waiting for: the A220.
The plane operating the inaugural flight was N102DU, the second A220 delivered to Delta.
But first, some inaugural-flight festivities, including speeches from Delta executives, a ribbon cutting …
… and photo ops with the crew.
Time to board!
Ginny Elliott, Delta’s managing director for airport operations at LaGuardia, greeted us at the boarding door.
We made our way past the 12 first-class seats …
… and the 15 Delta Comfort Plus seats.
We arrived in the economy cabin.
The A220 economy and Comfort Plus cabins feature a 3-2 layout, with five seats per row.
I had seat 15D. Row 15 is a bit of an odd duck in that it’s an emergency-exit row with only four seats. Seats 15A and 15B have the benefit of additional legroom, but 15C and 15D do not — though they do have some extra elbow room, thanks to the missing seat.
The missing seat.
The A220 economy cabin features 30 to 32 inches of seat pitch, the distance between two rows.
Delta Comfort Plus has 34 inches of pitch.
First class boasts 36 inches of pitch and wider, 21-inch seats.
Economy and Comfort Plus seats are an impressive 18.6 inches wide — some of the roomiest economy seats in the business.
Soon it was time for takeoff. The cabin crew switched on the blue mood lighting, and we were on our way.
The A220’s Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines spooled up quickly and launched down the runway at LaGuardia. We were soon off to Boston. Even though I was next to the wing, the engines were remarkably quiet.
I settled in for the hourlong flight. Legroom proved adequate, but far from roomy.
Here’s a look at the fresh tray table.
Passengers also received an inaugural-flight postcard and pin.
The A220 is known for its large windows.
But since I was in an emergency-exit row, my window was less impressive in size.
That said, the sunrise over New England was rather majestic.
Each passenger has access to a screen …
… with Delta’s new wireless in-flight entertainment system.
The system offers a variety of movies …
… TV shows …
… live satellite TV …
… music …
… games …
… a beverage menu …
… and a flight map. The user interface was easy to use, and the screen quality was good.
There is a USB plug in front of each seat …
… and power sockets in each row.
At the back of the plane, just in front of the galley …
… are the economy-cabin lavatories. The one on the right side of the plane is pretty standard fare.
But the one on the left side, or the captain’s side, boasts a rarely seen feature: a window. The presence of the window created a long line down the aisle. Most people didn’t actually need to use the restroom — they simply wanted a photo.
Pretty soon it was time for the flight to end. The captain announced the plane’s descent into Boston before the flight attendants could serve drinks. I skipped drink service in favour of taking pictures of the bathroom window.
Before stepping off the plane, I chatted with one of the pilots, who praised the airline’s new high-tech jet …
… and its state-of-the-art digital cockpit.
Here’s one final look at the new A220. The Delta Airbus A220’s inaugural flight was short but oh so sweet. The plane was remarkably quiet, while the cabin and its economy seats felt spacious. So did the A220 live up to the hype? Absolutely.
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