Delta Air Lines launched its first Airbus A220 jets into service Thursday on flights from New York LaGuardia Airport to Boston and Dallas-Fort Worth.
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The new 109-seat narrow-body planes have larger overhead bins, wider seats and bigger windows than previous models of about the same size, and will replace 76-seat regional jets on routes popular among business travelers.
The launch of the A220-100 in Delta's fleet was originally scheduled for Jan. 31, but because it needed federal certifications the debut was delayed by the partial government shutdown that started in late December and ended last month.
Atlanta-based Delta, the first North American airline to fly the A220, hopes the plane will give it a competitive edge against other airlines. The planes are more fuel-efficient, part of a strategy by Delta to replace 20 percent of its older, less-efficient planes by 2020.
The company celebrated the addition of the new A220 jets to its fleet with an event at LaGuardia for the first flight.
Delta ordered 75 A220s in 2016 and last month ordered 15 more and upgraded to a larger version, the A220-300, for the new orders and a portion of its previous orders.
The larger A220-300s with 120 seats will be assembled at an Airbus facility in Mobile, Alabama, and will begin entering Delta’s fleet in 2020.
Delta has not yet announced when the A220 will begin flying routes from Atlanta, but CEO Ed Bastian has said the plane will “touch the entire domestic system over time.”
“Atlanta will see it at the right time,” he said.
The A220 started out as the Bombardier C Series CS100. Then, a tariff dispute broke out with Boeing. The Trump administration proposed tariffs of more than 200 percent, but the U.S. International Trade Commission ended up overturning the tariffs on Montreal-based Bombardier.
In the middle of the dispute, Airbus acquired a majority interest in the C Series business and announced plans to eventually open a final assembly facility for the plane in Mobile.