Delta Air Lines is en route to be the first U.S. airline to take delivery of the Airbus A220, and its first narrow-body has just rolled out of the paint shop. The U.S. legacy carrier placed the order back in 2016 – sparking a trade war between U.S. plane maker Boeing and Canada’s Bombardier along the way.

Delta’s first A220-100 was introduced this week after rolling out of the painting hangar in the carrier’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced on September 14, 2018.

The brand new aircraft will now move on to final pre-flight assembly in the A220 flight line hangar in Mirabel before taking off for its first test flight later this fall. Delta’s first A220 airliner is scheduled to begin service in early 2019.

Airbus A220 deliveries hanging on thanks to Delta

According to Airbus order and delivery book, as of August 2018, Delta has 75 A220-100s on order. If you look at the numbers closely, you will see that orders for the single-aisle jet in North America also amount to a total 75. As for the A220-300, it seems this variant is doing slightly better in the region, with 85 orders total: Air Canada having placed 45 and Republic Airways Holdings the remaining 40.

And then there is the  worldwide count – Airbus’ order book shows that there were no orders for the A220 worldwide since January of this year. Out of the total of 349 single-aisle jets delivered in 2018 (as of August 31, 2018), only five were the A220-300 and no A220-100.

Worldwide, the A220-100 accumulated a total of 123 orders in 2018. The only 8 deliveries and 8 jets in operation were with Swiss Air Lines. And guess who placed the most orders? The U.S. airline in subject. Second biggest orders were placed for (only) 10 A220-100s each by customers Gulf Air, Swiss, and less known carriers Braathens Regional Airlines (Scandinavia) and Odyssey Airlines (UK).

As for the A220-300 variant, it scored 279 orders in total worldwide so far this year. There were 34 deliveries and these are now in operation. AirBaltic (Latvia) has proven to be the biggest customer for the model, with 50 orders, having 11 jets already delivered and in operation. The good old Swiss ordered 20 A220-300s, with 16 deliveries & jets in operation.

Delta’s Helen of Troy

Delta ordered the 116 to 135 -seat A220-100 back in the days when the aircraft was known as Bombardier’s CSeries or CS100. The U.S. airline signed the $5.6 billion (at list prices) deal for these 75 aircraft in April 2016 – around the same time as it cancelled another aircraft order (for 18 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners).

The move sparked a trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier. The U.S. manufacturer accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017, backing its claims on Delta’s deal. Following the accusations, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.

Check out the video of Delta’s first A220 rolling out of the paint shop at the A220 assembly line in Mirabel, Québec:

 

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Following the decision by United States International Trade Commission (ITC) not to impose a 300% import tax on Bombardier C Series jets, Delta Airlines announced intending to “take as many deliveries as possible” from a new Airbus and Bombardier U.S. facility, as soon as it opens, but for the time being will accept jets made in Canada as well.