End of an era: Delta begins flights with last-ever Airbus A320ceo

Edward Russel / Wikipedia

Production of the first generation of the Airbus A320, named “ceo” for “current engine option”, has officially ended. The last “ceo” aircraft was delivered in December 2021 to US carrier Delta Air Lines, beginning service in the last days of the year.

The delivery of the aircraft – A321-200, registered as N129DN – happened on December 16, 2021. The aircraft was assembled at the Airbus factory in Mobile, Alabama, and made its first flight on December 6, 2021.

On December 30 the aircraft started service as Delta flight 1045 from Minneapolis (MSP) to New York (LGA).

Delta started taking delivery of Airbus A320s in 2008, and A321s in 2016. According to Planespotters data, 171 aircraft of this type are currently in service with the carrier, making the A320 its second-most-numerous model, just behind the Boeing 737.

Delta’s last A321ceo order was made in 2017, with later orders being for the renewed A321neos.

Airbus launched the A320 in 1984, with the stretched version – the A321 – coming in 1988. An effort to modernize the airliner started in 2006. The three available engine options – CFM International CFM56, International Aero Engines IAE V2500 and Pratt & Whitney PW6000 – were replaced with the CFM LEAP and the PW1110G, while the aircraft received other minor improvements.

The renewed version was named “neo” for “new engine option”, while the older versions were retroactively named “ceo”. The first A320neo conducted its maiden flight in 2014, and in subsequent years, Airbus started winding the production of the old model down.

In theory, Airbus still has several A320ceo orders: Iran Air, Mexicana and Ural Airlines have all ordered A320 and A321 aircraft in recent years. However, the reintroduction of sanctions against Iran in 2018 have halted its deliveries, while Mexicana was dissolved in 2019. The Ural Airlines order has been in deadlock, as the carrier kept renting newer A320neos.

With over 10,000 aircraft produced as of early 2022, the A320 family the second most produced jet airliner. It is a twin-engine narrow-body aircraft whose smallest version (the discontinued A318) can carry around 100 passengers, and the largest version (A321) – up to 244.

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