On the 10-year anniversary of Delta Air Lines’ merger with Northwest Airlines, Delta employees got a glimpse of a new jet that the carrier will use to upgrade its fleet.
The 109-seat Airbus A220-100 has wider seats, large overhead bins and bigger windows — there’s even a window in one of the lavatories in the back of the plane.
“Small things matter,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian at an event celebrating the merger anniversary with the A220 on display. Along with a more spacious interior, the new plane has “the best lav you’ll find in the domestic skies,” he said.
Atlanta-based Delta, the first North American airline to fly the A220, hopes the plane will give it a competitive edge against other airlines and help it expand and grow passenger counts on domestic flights. Delta has ordered 75 of the new jets, which are expected to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient than planes of similar size.
“We really think it’s going to be a game changer,” said Jim Lee, a Delta pilot who flew the plane to Atlanta.
The plane’s first commercial flights will be from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Boston Logan and to Dallas/Ft. Worth on Jan. 31, 2019.
The single-aisle A220 will replace 76-seat regional jets on routes popular among business travelers — though Delta has not yet announced when and where it will debut the plane on routes to Atlanta.
“It’s going to touch the entire domestic system over time,” Bastian said. “Atlanta will see it at the right time.”
The airline took delivery of the plane from Airbus in Mirabel, Quebec on Friday, then flew it to Atlanta that afternoon.
On Monday, Delta unveiled the plane to about 2,000 employees at its massive new engine shop at Hartsfield-Jackson Jackson International Airport.
Bastian said mergers in the airline industry have enabled the airline “to invest in future technology that we couldn’t have invested in on a standalone basis.”
“This has all been brought about by having a more stable, stronger more durable industry, and Delta-Northwest were at the forefront of that,” Bastian said. “We think it’s the basis for the next round of domestic growth for us.”
Between now and the A220’s first commercial flight, the plane will be used for flight crew training and inspections before the launch.
The A220 was initially developed by Bombardier and was previously known as the C Series CS100, before a tariff dispute broke out with Boeing. In the middle of the dispute, Airbus acquired a majority interest in the C Series business and announced plans to eventually open a final assembly facility for the plane in Mobile, Ala.