While the aviation industry is currently shrinking due to the pandemic, that’s not stopping airlines from still taking delivery of some planes (presumably for contractual reasons, rather than an actual desire or need for new planes).
Well, Delta will be taking delivery of a new aircraft type in the coming weeks, which is the first time that we’ve seen this at a US airline in a while.
Airbus A220-300 joins Delta’s fleet
Delta ordered a total of 95 Airbus A220 aircraft, including 45 A220-100s, and 50 A220-300s.
The airline first took delivery of the A220-100, which entered service in early 2019. So far the airline has 31 of those planes in its fleet. Well, Delta will soon be taking delivery of its first A220-300, which is the larger version of the aircraft.
As noted by Airways Magazine, Delta appears to have quietly scheduled the inaugural flight for the plane type. The A220-300 will enter service with Delta on November 10, 2020:
- The plane will first operate the Salt Lake City to Houston route
- The plane will then also operate the Salt Lake City to Austin route
I expect that this is highly subject to change, so I wouldn’t recommend booking this flight fully expecting it will be the first A220-300 flight. After all, Delta hasn’t made an official announcement about this, and airline schedules are also more fluid than ever before.
As of now, Delta’s pilot bases for the A220 are in New York City and Salt Lake City, so you can expect much A220 flying to be concentrated on routes to & from those airports. Of course the planes will still make it to other parts of the system, and as the fleet expands over time, you can expect more A220 pilot bases to open.
Differences between the A220-100 & A220-300
In the case of Delta’s fleet, what will the difference be between the A220-100 and A220-300? The planes have very similar ranges, so ultimately it comes down to capacity.
The A220-100 features just 109 seats, while the A220-300 features 130 seats. To break that down by cabin:
- Both version of the plane feature 12 first class seats
- The A220-100 features 15 Comfort+ seats, while the A220-300 features 30 Comfort+ seats
- The A220-100 features 82 economy seats, while the A220-300 features 88 economy seats
Both versions of the Delta A220 feature 12 first class seats
In other words, in terms of seat ratios:
- Expect first class upgrades to be easier on the -100 than -300
- Expect Comfort+ upgrades to be easier on the -300 than -100
The A220-300 features twice as many Comfort+ seats as the A220-100
Other than that, the interiors are more or less the same — both planes are equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi, personal televisions at every seat, and bathrooms with a view.
Lavatories with a view on the Delta A220
How the A220 fits into Delta’s fleet strategy
While airplanes like the Airbus A380 are unfortunately on the way out, the A220 is only going to grow in popularity over time, especially due to the pandemic. The A220:
- Is reasonably priced (compared to other mainline jets)
- Has great fuel efficiency
- Offers capacity between what’s usually found on regional jets and A320/737 family aircraft
- Has incredible versatility and range, so can operate everything from short hops to transcon routes efficiently
In the case of Delta’s fleet specifically, the A220 will largely be replacing the Boeing 717 in terms of capacity. Delta will be retiring its 717s by 2025, and it has nearly 90 in its fleet.
The A220 is comparable capacity-wise, but I’d largely expect the A220 to continue to serve different routes than what the 717 served. That’s because the A220 is much longer range, so it can operate in markets where the 717 couldn’t.
Over time I’d expect some 717 routes to be operated by A220s, and I’d expect other former 717 routes to be operated by Delta Connection aircraft, which offer lower capacity.
Much like the 717, the A220 economy cabin is in a 2-3 configuration
Delta will soon be taking delivery of its first Airbus A220-300. We sure aren’t seeing a lot of airlines take delivery of planes during the pandemic, so this is an exciting development.
Ultimately this isn’t a totally new aircraft type for Delta, since it has been flying A220-100s since early 2019. However, this marks the introduction of the larger version of the aircraft.
The A220 is a phenomenal plane, and will only grow in popularity over time.
Are you excited for Delta to take delivery of A220-300s?