Delta Receives the 12,000th Airbus Plane

Delta Air Lines received Airbus’s 12,000th aircraft on Monday (20/05/19). The U.S. carrier was handed an A220-100, which had been assembled at the aerospace titan’s plant in Mirabel, Canada.

Delta Air Lines A220-100
Handover of N113DQ took place at the Mirabel assembly line. Photo: Airbus press release

Delta Air Lines’ A220-100 regional jet is the 12,000th aircraft manufactured and delivered by Airbus. The handover of N113DQ took place at the Mirabel assembly line on Monday. It comes 45 years after Airbus delivered its first aircraft to Air France in May 1974.

Delta Air Lines

The aircraft is the 12th A220 received by Delta Air Lines since the carrier’s aging fleet was augmented by the first of the type in October 2018. Earlier this year the carrier drafted the A220 onto routes between New York LaGuardia and Boston and LaGuardia and Dallas.

From March until June this year, the airline intends to deploy the type from its eight North American hubs to Detroit, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Houston. The largest of the carrier’s hubs is located at Atlanta International Airport.

It is fitting that Delta should take delivery of Airbus’s 12,000th aircraft, because the airline is a faithful Airbus customer. Delta remains the corporation’s biggest consumer of A220s and was the first US airline to operate the type. The US carrier also operates more A330s than any other.

Delta’s A220s suit the airline’s market hold which is dominated by domestic operations.

The A220-100 has a range of 2,950 nmi with 116 passengers on board. Airbus states the A220-300 has a range of around 3,200 nmi with 141 passengers on board. However, recent announcements suggest these ranges could be improved in the very near future.

Aerial photo of LaGuardia airport
Delta Air Lines’ schedules are dominated by domestic operations. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Investment urged

At the end of 2017 Delta Air Lines had 856 aircraft in its mainline fleet, according reporting from The Motley Fool, most of which was old stock. The fleet comprised a number of models that had been out of production for over ten years. Those included the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and MD-90, and the Boeing 717 and 757.

At the start of 2018 Delta invested heavily in new aircraft as a precursor to retiring its older types; it had 353 orders for new aircraft including A321s and A220s. The number of aircraft on order was, according to Levine-Weinberg, enough to replace more than 40% of its fleet.

Delta Air Lines A321
Airbus’s assembly line in Mobile, Alabama is troubling for Boeing. Photo: Delta Air Lines

The vast majority of aircraft Delta now has on order are narrow-bodied types, destined for the domestic fleet. Nearly all of them will come from Airbus. The airline expects to receive 114 A321s and 54 A220s over the next three years.

The rate of acquisition points to the carrier’s intention to replace all of its remaining MD-88s by the end of 2020.

Airbus

The A220 is the newest of Airbus’s commercial aircraft. When the design program was governed by Bombardier the model was known as the C-Series.

Airbus delivered its first aircraft (an A300B2) to Air France in 1974. In 2010, the corporation handed over its 6,000th aircraft. Just nine years later it had doubled production.

The delivery of Airbus’s 12,000th aircraft assembled in Canada highlights the growing ubiquity of Airbus in North America. The success of Airbus’s assembly line in Mobile, Alabama built in 2015 would suggest the corporation’s foothold in America is firm.

This particular thorn in Boeing’s side won’t be extracted with ease.

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