On February 7, 2019, Delta took its brand new A220-100 to the skies for the very first time. The introduction of the new aircraft type to its fleet has, of course, now gains its own momentum for the U.S. airline. But the fact that precisely this deal − Delta’s A220s order − had previously sparked a trade war between North American plane makers Boeing and Bombardier, makes the event even more significant.
Flight 744 took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA) in the early hours of the morning, marking the official debut of the state-of-the-art A220-100, Delta proudly announced on the day. The airline is not only the pleased owner of the aircraft, but also its biggest customer worldwide (based on Airbus orderbook as of December 31, 2018).
It is also the first airline in the U.S. to take delivery of the A220, after it was rolled out of the painting hangar in Delta’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced in September 2018. Having recently shaken up and expanded its initial order, Delta is now expecting to eventually have 90 A220s of both available variants in its fleet.
Now belonging to Airbus, the aircraft had a different manufacturer and name when the U.S. legacy carrier first ordered it in 2016. Delta placed a $5.6 billion (at list prices) order for 75 Bombardier SC100s around the same time it cancelled another aircraft order from Boeing, sparking a legal war and tariff battle between the two planemakers.
Boeing accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017 – pointing to Delta’s deal. Consequently, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.