North American travelers will have a new bird to fly on come wintertime. During last week’s quarterly earnings call, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said the airline will put state-of-the-art Airbus A220 jets into service at the beginning of 2019, becoming the first North American airline to do so.
The new planes are coming earlier than previously expected. The CEO said in January the jets would be delivered in early 2019, but indicated Thursday that they would be arriving later this year. Based on early reviews, Delta flyers can look forward to the new ride.
The A220 — renamed as such after Airbus acquired Bombardier’s C Series program — will replace Delta’s aging McDonnell Douglas MD88, MD95 and Airbus A319 airplanes.
The new jets are smaller than much of the fleet they replace, seating about 110 passengers, yet feature range long enough to fly nonstop across the continent.
Delta has 75 Airbus A220-100s, formerly the C Series 100 or CS100, on order. The airline hasn’t announced specific routes or A220 schedules yet, and Bastian balked at a question about whether the airline would use the jets to expand capacity in concert with an expansion at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).
I took a flight on a SWISS International CS100 back in December. The plane was exceedingly quiet, enough to hear a neighbor’s furtive movements. Economy seats, arranged two on one side of the aisle, three on the other, were among the widest I’ve experienced on a short-haul plane.
The renamed A220 will compliment the A350 as Delta’s first two next generation aircraft. The airline operates the oldest fleet of any U.S. carrier, but has plans in place to rapidly renew its fleet over the next several years.
JetBlue will become the second North American airline to operate the next generation jet. The New York-based carrier ordered 60 of the larger A220-300 (formerly CS300) variant earlier this month, with options for another 60 down the road.