Belfast Bombardier boost as Delta orders more A220 jets
Delta Air Lines has placed a £1bn order for 15 more Airbus A220 planes in what represents the latest boost for Belfast's Bombardier workers.
The order for the A220-300s is the first time the US carrier has requested the larger version of the jet series, the wings of which are made here.
Delta, the world's second largest airline, had initially placed an order for 75 of the smaller A220-100 planes in 2016.
Both versions have been designed for the 100-150 seat market.
Yesterday Delta said it had now upgraded its 2016 order to include a total of 50 A220-300 and 40 A220-100s.
It comes as two other US airlines last weekend firmed up their orders for a total of 120 A220s.
JetBlue and a new low cost operator launched by that company's founder David Neeleman have each signed off on 60 A220-300 planes.
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Both orders were originally announced in July 2018, shortly after Airbus took a majority stake in what was previously known as Bombardier's C Series.
The Canadian aerospace firm continues to own 34% of the A220.
Gil West, Delta's chief operating officer, said yesterday: "These additional A220 aircraft will continue to strategically enable Delta to refresh our fleet, drive further advances in the customer experience and serve as an excellent investment for our customers, employees and shareowners for Delta into the next decade.
"We look forward to taking our first A220-300 in 2020 at the Airbus assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama."
Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer said: "Delta has always been deeply focused on the passenger experience, and the A220 fits perfectly with that philosophy.
"You just need to take a look at Delta's cabin on the A220 to see it's setting a new standard in short-haul flying.
"The A220 will provide passengers with a level of comfort and convenience that makes flying a pleasure again, while meeting Delta's high standards for efficiency and reliability."
While the wings of the A220 series are made in Belfast, the orders from the three airlines will be assembled at Airbus' still to be built assembly facility in Mobile.
It's understood that work to construct the new production line will begin next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Airbus confirmed yesterday that it had delivered 20 A220 aircraft since July's deal.
In total, Airbus delivered 800 commercial aircraft in 2018 - 11% more than in 2017.
"Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018," said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.
"I am equally pleased about the healthy order intake as it shows the underlying strength of the commercial aircraft market and the trust our customers are placing in us.
"As we look to further increase our industrial efficiency, we will continue making the digitalisation of our business a key priority."