Delta Air Lines on Feb. 7 became the first airline in the Americas to debut the Airbus A220, operating flights between New York LaGuardia (LGA) and both Boston Logan and Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW).

The A220’s debut—delayed a week when the partial government shutdown held up final FAA approvals—kicks off a major ramp-up in A220 services for both Delta and the region. 

Atlanta-based Delta has committed to taking 90 A220s, including 40 A220-100s and 50 A220-300s. It has taken delivery of four—all smaller, 109-seat -100 versions. Aviation Week's Fleet Discovery shows Delta taking delivery of 16 more by year-end. The airline’s 130-seat A220-300s are slated to arrive from 2020 through 2023.

Delta is one of five North American operators with firm orders for a total of 295 of the former Bombardier CSeries family.

Both New York-based JetBlue and David Neeleman’s planned startup, dubbed Moxy for now, have 60 -300s on order, while Air Canada has signed up for 45 -300s. US regional Republic Airways has a 40-aircraft -300 order on its books, though it was placed when the now-regional-aircraft-focused company owned Denver-based Frontier Airlines and is not likely to be fulfilled. 

Airbus lists a backlog of 475 A220s, including 404 -300s. The manufacturer’s January update removed five -100s slated for Swiss charter carrier PrivatAir, which ceased operations in December 2018.

The variety of North American operators suggests the A220’s much-touted versatility will be tested.

Delta is using its initial aircraft to replace large regional jets on premium routes. It has identified four routes are designed to become all-A220 service: LGA-DFW; LGA-Houston Intercontinental; LGA-Salt Lake City; and New York JFK-DFW. Looking ahead, the A220 fleet will be “primarily focused on coastal gateways,” CFO Paul Jacobson said last month. 

JetBlue may use the aircraft on thin, transcontinental routes that are beyond the range of its Embraer E190s, which the A220s are replacing. Neeleman has publicly discussed plans to develop new point-to-point routes, which suggests an emphasis on serving smaller communities.

Sean Broderick,

(Fleet analysis by Daniel Williams,