Air Canada just added the Airbus A220 to its fleet - see inside the controversial aircraft that Boeing tried to keep out of the US

A220 Air Canada takeoff

  • Air Canada took delivery of its newest aircraft, the Airbus A220, in December and unveiled it to the public on January 15.
  • The airline plans to deploy the aircraft domestically and to US destinations including San Jose, Seattle, and New York.
  • The aircraft has a storied history that saw majority ownership in the program being acquired by Airbus after being designed by Canada's Bombardier.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Air Canada unveiled its first Airbus A220-300 aircraft on Wednesday, showing off the Canadian aircraft that was bought by a European manufacturer who plans to also build them in the US.

The aircraft is one of the most controversial in North America due to Boeing's resistance to and interference in the aircraft's sales in the US market. The manufacturer unsuccessfully attempted to block the purchase of the aircraft by Delta Air Lines, who had been shifting more towards Airbus products in its medium and long-haul fleet with arrivals such as the Airbus A321 and A350-900 XWB.

Though Boeing failed to convince trade regulators of its case, the prospect of a negative decision opened the door for Airbus to take a majority stake in the program and rebrand it as its own. It was then that the Bombardier C Series became the Airbus A220, though most operators still keep the C Series name on the entryway to its aircraft.

Once it took delivery of the aircraft at Bombardier/Airbus' facility in Mirabel near Montreal, Air Canada became the second North American carrier behind Delta Air Lines to operate the Airbus A220, showing national pride doesn't always come first in aviation. Delta uses the aircraft on a variety of domestic routes with one of its longest being New York to Salt Lake City.

JetBlue Airways placed a large order for the aircraft last year, opting to go for an all-Airbus fleet rather than continue with Embraer.

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Air Canada received its first of 45 Airbus A220 aircraft in late December, opting to purchase the larger -300 variant of the type for its mainline fleet.

Air Canada received its first of 45 Airbus A220 aircraft in late December, opting to purchase the larger -300 variant of the type for its mainline fleet.

The fleet will be based in Air Canada's central Canada hubs of Montreal and Toronto, flying both domestically within the country and internationally to cities such as New York.

The fleet will be based in Air Canada's central Canada hubs of Montreal and Toronto, flying both domestically within the country and internationally to cities such as New York.

Air Canada also plans to use the plane to launch new routes from Montreal and Toronto to as far as Seattle and San Jose, respectively.

Air Canada also plans to use the plane to launch new routes from Montreal and Toronto to as far as Seattle and San Jose, respectively.

The aircraft was delivered in Air Canada's new black, white, and red livery, a throwback to one of its former paints.

The aircraft was delivered in Air Canada's new black, white, and red livery, a throwback to one of its former paints.

The A220's interior allows for a normal-sized business class cabin in a 2-2 configuration, with Air Canada planning to fit its A220s with 12 business class seats.

The A220's interior allows for a normal-sized business class cabin in a 2-2 configuration, with Air Canada planning to fit its A220s with 12 business class seats.

125 seats will make of the economy class cabin, configured in a 3-2 configuration that's ideal for couples or companions traveling together.

125 seats will make of the economy class cabin, configured in a 3-2 configuration that's ideal for couples or companions traveling together.

Its cockpit is state of the art, with side sticks replacing normal yokes and screens taking the place of many instruments.

 Its cockpit is state of the art, with side sticks replacing normal yokes and screens taking the place of many instruments.

One of the rear lavatories of the aircraft also features a window.

One of the rear lavatories of the aircraft also features a window.

The aircraft gained its controversial status when Boeing attempted to block the sale of the aircraft to Delta, claiming that subsidies from the Canadian government enabled Bombardier to lower its prices.

The aircraft gained its controversial status when Boeing attempted to block the sale of the aircraft to Delta, claiming that subsidies from the Canadian government enabled Bombardier to lower its prices.

The US government initially sided with Boeing, proposing a near-300% tariff on imports of the aircraft from Canada, which prompted Airbus to step in.

The US government initially sided with Boeing, proposing a near-300% tariff on imports of the aircraft from Canada, which prompted Airbus to step in.

The European aircraft manufacturer took a 50.01% stake in the program, which is why the aircraft is now called the Airbus A220. Airbus slapped its name on it and would build future A220s destined for American airlines at a new assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama alongside the Airbus A320 family.

The European aircraft manufacturer took a 50.01% stake in the program, which is why the aircraft is now called the Airbus A220. Airbus slapped its name on it and would build future A220s destined for American airlines at a new assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama alongside the Airbus A320 family.

The tariff was ultimately ruled against by the US International Trade Commission, but Airbus' investment, rebranding, and new production facility remained.

The tariff was ultimately ruled against by the US International Trade Commission, but Airbus' investment, rebranding, and new production facility remained.

Some of the largest operators of the aircraft are in Europe with Swiss International Airlines being the largest operator of the Airbus A220 in the world, according to fleet data from planespotters.net

Some of the largest operators of the aircraft are in Europe with Swiss International Airlines being the largest operator of the Airbus A220 in the world, according to fleet data from planespotters.net

Air Baltic isn't far behind, primarily operating its Airbus A220 aircraft on regional routes across the continent while the goal of operating the aircraft exclusively.

Air Baltic isn't far behind, primarily operating its Airbus A220 aircraft on regional routes across the continent while the goal of operating the aircraft exclusively.

Despite Boeing's misgivings, Delta Air Lines debuted its A220 fleet in February 2019 following a brief delay due to the 2018-19 government shutdown. Its first two routes were from New York to Boston and Dallas.

Despite Boeing's misgivings, Delta Air Lines debuted its A220 fleet in February 2019 following a brief delay due to the 2018-19 government shutdown. Its first two routes were from New York to Boston and Dallas.

Operators of the aircraft still keep the C Series name on its aircraft at the boarding door, reminding every passenger who steps aboard of the aircraft's controversial past.

Operators of the aircraft still keep the C Series name on its aircraft at the boarding door, reminding every passenger who steps aboard of the aircraft's controversial past.
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