Updated: Government Shutdown Delays Delta’s A220 Launch

Updated: Government Shutdown Delays Delta’s A220 Launch

MIAMI — It’s official. The government shutdown has delayed the entry-into-service of Delta’s newest aircraft type—the Airbus A220.

The airline has confirmed that the launch date has been pushed from January 31 to February 7. However, this new date remains in jeopardy.

In early January, Delta Air Lines CEO, Ed Bastian, said that the launch of the Airbus A220 will likely be delayed because of the current Government Shutdown.

The airline’s Chief revealed that because of the Shutdown, approximately $25 million per month of revenues have been impacted.

Last week, Airways published a story stating that the A220’s launch was in jeopardy, as the current US Government Shutdown could impact Delta’s plans to launch the A220 on its two inaugural flights to Boston and Dallas.

Sources confirmed that even though the airline had taken delivery of four A220s (Ships 8101, 8102, 8203, and 8104), the lack of FAA inspectors available to sign off the airline’s 100-hour flight proving runs might delay the aircraft’s entry into service (EIS).

“During proving run flights, the operator must comply with all applicable FAA regulations. These may include flight and duty time, rest times,” sources told Airways.

Current FAA inspectors have been furloughed because of the Government Shutdown, therefore reducing the number of active inspectors to meet Delta’s demanding proving run schedule.

Apparently, only one of the four Airbus A220s on Delta’s fleet has received the approval from the FAA to start flying, suggesting that the launch of both Boston and Dallas flights is unlikely to happen.

Surely, however, Delta has already allocated spare aircraft and crew to operate these flights. But with Bastian’s remarks, the likelihood of seeing Delta’s A220s enter into service on January 31 is very low.

The airline said that “We’re not going to be canceling routes or flights, we’re just delaying the introduction of that new aircraft.”

However, sources tell Airways that the FAA is recalling furloughed inspectors and engineers “to perform duties to ensure continuous operational safety of the entire national airspace.”

The FAA said that “after three weeks, it is appropriate to recall inspectors and engineers,” keeping the hopes up for an on-time A220 inaugural date.

With regards to TSA delays, Bastian said that Delta is also “working closely with TSA on any steps to minimize delays, including mobilizing employees to perform non-essential acts of security process; encourage officials to resolve differences and get the government to open soon.”

Financial Results Published

Regardless of the Shutdown, the airline published an adjusted pre-tax income for the December quarter 2018 for $1.2 billion, driven by more than $700 million of revenue growth.

Total numbers for 2018 come with a pre-tax income of $5.1 billion, a $137 million decrease relative to 2017.

Delta claims that this reduction comes as the company noted approximately 90% of the $2 billion increase in fuel expense. 

“2018 was a successful year for Delta with record operational reliability, increasing customer satisfaction, and solid financial results in the face of higher fuel costs,” said Bastian.

The CEO announced that because of these positive results and the positive customer satisfaction, “I am honored to recognize their efforts with $1.3 billion in profit sharing for 2018.”

“As we move into 2019, we expect to drive double-digit earnings growth through higher revenues, maintaining a cost trajectory below inflation, and the modest benefit from lower fuel costs,” Bastian said.

Successful Operational Year

In 2018, Delta managed to score 143 continuous days of zero system cancellations across the combined mainline and Delta Connection operations on a full year basis, up from 90 days in 2017.

The airline’s mainline on-time performance scored 85.7%, allowing Delta to be recognized by FlightGlobal as the ‘Most On-time North American Mainline Airline,’ ‘Most On-time North American Network Airline,’ and ‘Most On-time International Mainline Airline.’

Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s president, said that the airline’s “strong brand momentum was evident across the business with positive unit revenue growth in all geographic entities for the full year.”

Hauenstein noted that Delta also set a record revenue premium to the industry, and double-digit revenue growth from premium products and non-ticket sources. 

“Our March quarter adjusted unit revenue growth is expected to be flat to up two percent including impacts from the timing of Easter, increasing currency headwinds, and the ongoing government shutdown,” he said.

Commercial Pilot, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Aviation MBA, Globetrotter, AS Roma fan, and in my free time, I fly the Airways Ship.

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