ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines showcased its first Airbus A220-100 to the media on Monday at its Atlanta headquarters. The aircraft, formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries, is the first of 75 A220 aircraft Delta has on order.
N101DU is the first of 75 Airbus A220-100s that @Delta has on order. Delta expects to have five A220s delivered by the end of the year. #DeltaA220 pic.twitter.com/lIEWzZJTp7— 🅑🅔🅝 🅑🅔🅐🅡🅤🅟 (@TheAviationBeat) October 29, 2018
After being delivered in a ceremony on Friday, the aircraft, N101DU, flew to Atlanta where it will shortly begin familiarization and training flights for several months.
“We have big plans for our A220 fleet and are confident that Delta customers and Delta people alike will be delighted with the in-flight experience provided by this thoroughly modern and efficient aircraft,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Friday.
“We value our longstanding partnerships with Airbus and Bombardier and are grateful for the great design and manufacturing work done by the team here in Mirabel.”
At the Bombardier final assembly site in Mirabel, Canada, a sizeable amount of Delta bound A220 aircraft are in various stages of final assembly.
By the end of 2018, Delta plans on taking delivery of four additional A220 aircraft.
Delta has scheduled to launch A220 operations on January 31st, 2019 with flights from New York-LaGuardia to Boston and Dallas Fort-Worth. Airways will be aboard both flights on that day.
To date, Delta has announced the following routes for the A220:
Delta is the fourth operator of the Airbus A220 and the second of the smaller A220-100 variant. The other A220-100 operator, SWISS, currently flies ten of the -100 aircraft.
Inside the Aircraft
The Delta A220 seats 109 passengers in a three-class configuration. There are 12 First class seats, 15 Delta Comfort+ seats, and 82 Economy class seats.
In First class, the seats are in a 2-2 configuration. For those who enjoy the interior aesthetics of Delta’s large t-tail fleet, they will be pleased to find that Delta Comfort+ and Economy class on the A220 is in a 2-3 configuration.
After complaints from its flight attendants over tight working conditions on the Boeing 737-900ER, Delta took input on how to better design the A220 galley.
“In every process, we have involved something called a fleet committee and a fleet sub-committee, where voices from every constituency—customers, revenue management, network management, our own flight operations— are baked into that,” said Delta Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mapes.
“On the A350 you see evidence of that, based on everything from where the trash carts are to the galley configuration in the back. All of that was taken into consideration,” he explained.
During an exclusive interview with Airways, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian said that when looking for an alternative to the Boeing 717, the Airbus A220 was the right choice.
“We need to find something that’s going to be more fuel efficient, something that’s going to create a greater range, and a greater bandwidth of options and the CSeries (A220) fit the bill,” he said.
In an age where the vast majority of Delta’s competition have opted against including seatback Inflight Entertainment (IFE) on new narrowbody aircraft, Delta has instead opted to invest heavily in the A220 interior by introducing its latest generation of seatback entertainment.
When asked why Delta chose to include IFE screens on new narrow-body aircraft, Mapes said, “10 years ago when we were coming out of this integration of Delta and Northwest, the simple idea we had was how do you build a customer experience people look forward to, not endure.”
“I think it was very clear to us that a way to do that would be to bring some of the luxury and innovation that tends to get reserved to international aircraft to domestic mainline aircraft,” he added.
Delta Senior Product Manager, Ashley Garris, added that “People are going to use the screens for entertainment. It makes it easier for safety demos because the flight attendants don’t have to do a manual demonstration. It provides a distraction for however many hours you are in the air,” she said.
The A220 will be the first aircraft in Delta’s fleet to feature Gogo’s Vision Touch wireless IFE system.
The system works in conjunction with the aircraft’s Gogo 2Ku Wifi to stream content directly to seatback screens.
Passengers will also have the option to screen content directly to their own devices if they choose to.
While passengers will likely notice few physical changes to these screens compared to Delta’s existing products, Delta sees the Vision Touch product as a game changer.
Delta CMO @tim_mapes discussing the interior of the #DeltaA220. Says customers will enjoy the A220 versus “dread” on competitor airlines. pic.twitter.com/PdiFadSoQz— 🅑🅔🅝 🅑🅔🅐🅡🅤🅟 (@TheAviationBeat) October 29, 2018
As Delta prepares the A220 to enter service, momentum is gaining for the once-struggling narrowbody program.
This summer, Airbus and Bombardier secured three major orders from JetBlue (60 A220-300s), airBaltic (30 A220-300s) and a future US airline currently known as MOXY (60 A220-300s).
Later this afternoon, Delta CEO Ed Bastian will hold a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony to welcome the A220 into the Delta fleet.