We flew on the new Delta Airbus jet that Boeing tried to keep out of the US to see if it lives up to the hype. Here's the verdict.
- On Thursday, the Airbus A220 jetliner official entered commercial service in North America with Delta Air Lines.
- The A220 began life as the Bombardier C Series but was rebranded after the program was taken over by Airbus.
- The state-of-the-art Canadian jetliner was also the subject of a trade dispute launched by Boeing in 2017.
- Delta's first A220s finally entered service with flights from New York to Boston and Dallas.
On Thursday, the Airbus A220 jetliner official entered commercial service in North America with Delta Air Lines.
Delta's relationship with the A220, then known as the Bombardier C Series, started in 2016 when the carrier announced an order for 75 of the jetliners in a deal with as much as $5.6 billion at the time. The order made Delta the plane's North American launch customer.In April 2017, Boeing filed a complaint with US Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission alleging that the Delta C Series order was only made possible by abnormally low prices supported by Canadian government subsidies.
The US International Trade Commission agreed and in September of that year recommended a 219.63% tariff. A week later, the Commerce Department added another 79.82% tariff.
Bombardier and Delta both argued that Boeing's business couldn't have been hurt by the deal simply because Boeing didn't actually have a product in its lineup similar in capacity to the C Series.
In total, Bombardier and Delta faced a 299.45% tariff on any Canadian-built C Series plane exported to the US.
Facing the possibility of losing the most important order in the C Series program's history, Bombardier turned to Boeing's greatest foe, Airbus.Less than one month after the tariff was announced, Bombardier handed 50.01% of its prized airliner program to Airbus with zero upfront cash investment coming from the European aviation giant.
In the summer of 2018, the Bombardier C Series was officially rebranded the Airbus A220.
So what's all the fuss about?
The A220 is a state-of-the-art single-aisle airliner. The Canadian-built jet is a clean sheet design and incorporates the latest in commercial aviation technology including a carbon composite fuselage and fuel-sipping Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines.
In fact, the plane which entered service with SWISS in 2016, has earned praise from its operators for its exceptional fuel efficiency.
The A220 lives in the 100 to 150-seat airliner market. It's a segment of the market place that Airbus and Boeing had effectively abandoned for the past decade.
So, nearly three years, a trade dispute, and a name change later, the jet is finally ready to fly with Delta Air Lines.
Here's a closer look at the inaugural flight of Delta's Airbus A220.