There might be a travel downturn, but you wouldn’t know it at Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based airline is receiving a steady stream of new A220 planes. This week, new planes are coming in at a rate of one a day. It’s a visible sign of confidence in an otherwise battered airline industry.
This week, factory fresh planes will arrive into Minneapolis-St Paul International between Monday and Friday (on Friday, October 30, two new A220s will arrive in one day). It follows the delivery of five A220s to Delta last week. Last week’s deliveries were notable because they were the first A220s to come out of the Airbus facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Coming in this week are four Airbus A220-100s and two Airbus A220-300s. This week’s flights are originating from Montreal Airport, where the primary North American A220 plant is.
Delta Air Lines presently has 36 Airbus A220s. Of that number, Planespotters.net indicates 12 are parked, and 24 are in service. Double that number of A220s are yet to be delivered, but that tally will fall slightly this week.
“We have big plans for this aircraft,” Chuck Imhof, a Vice President at Delta, has previously said. “It will be an integral part of our future domestic fleet and will deliver an experience our customers will look forward to every time they fly.”
#A220 Deliveries to Delta:
Up to 6 (!!!!!!) deliveries this week (4 A220-100 & 2 A220-300).
(Last week, Thursday to Saturday: there were 5 A220 deliveries to Delta!) pic.twitter.com/B10iyEm1Lk
— Francois Beaulieu (@fbeaulie99) October 26, 2020
Airbus makes its manufacturing presence in North America felt
Last week’s deliveries from Mobile were a big deal for Airbus and the aviation industry in North America.
“The delivery of the first US-built A220-300 is a historic moment that highlights Airbus’ growing industrial footprint in North America and makes us all extremely proud,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas.
The Mobile plant is proof things can happen quickly when the will is there. The 270,000-square-foot facility only opened in May 2019. Production of the first A220s there began in August. Ten months later, the first Mobile-made A220s took to the skies for a series of test flights.
“Handing over the first U.S-assembled aircraft to a U.S.-based customer is a real point of pride for the A220 program,” said Philippe Balducchi, an A220 program leader.
“This delivery is the first of many to come and shows the strong collaborative spirit between the A220 Programme teams globally.”
New planes keep coming despite Delta having aircraft parked
Delta Air Lines is accepting the new planes despite having around a quarter of its fleet parked. The airline recently announced an adjusted pre-tax loss of $2.6 billion that excluded $4.0 billion of items directly related to the 2020 travel downturn. Despite this, the airline remains relatively upbeat about its future.
“We have been encouraged as more customers travel, and we are seeing a path of progressive improvement in our revenues, financial results, and daily cash burn,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s Chief Executive Officer earlier this month.
Delta has said there is a steady build in demand. The balance for the airline is to meet the uptick in demand with the rightsized planes. Delta’s executives have emphasized the need for nimbleness. The A220 is the perfect plane to facilitate that. Perhaps that’s why Delta is happy to accept the new A220s while keeping many of their older, larger planes out of the skies.