Delta orders 15 more Airbus A220 jets, upgrades to larger version

Before it has even begun flying its first Airbus A220, Delta Air Lines has ordered 15 more of the jets and upgraded to a larger version.

Atlanta-based Delta is scheduled to begin flying its first 109-seat A220 on Jan. 31 with flights from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Boston Logan and Dallas/Fort Worth.

However, it’s yet to be seen if the partial shutdown of the federal government -- which affects personnel at the Federal Aviation Administration  -- could delay the launch of the aircraft, which is still pending some regulatory approvals.

“Delta continues to monitor the situation and will work with the FAA to ensure that the A220 is fully certified when it enters our fleet,” Delta said in a written statement. “No customer disruption or impact to schedules are expected.” The airline can use other jets in its fleet to operate the flights if needed.

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Delta, the second-largest airline in the world, says the new jets will be “highly fuel-efficient,” and Airbus says the A220 will set “a new standard in short-haul flying,” according to written statements.

The airline announced Wednesday it is increasing its order of A220s to 90 from its original order of 75 in 2016. Delta is also upgrading to the larger A220-300 model for the new orders and converting a portion of its previous orders to the larger model, for a total order of 50 A220-300s. The other 40 orders will be for A220-100s.

The larger A220-300s with 130 seats will be assembled at an Airbus facility in Mobile, Ala. Construction of the plant next to existing A320 production lines will start later this month. Delta said it expects to take delivery of its first A220-300 in 2020 and get all 90 A220s by the end of 2023.

On Wednesday, Airbus also announced its first job openings for manufacturing positions for the new A220 production line in Mobile. The jobs include openings for aircraft structure/installation mechanics, installers for aircraft cabin furnishings and aircraft electricians.

Airbus said it is also hiring for A320 production and expects to hire a total of about 600 new employees in the next year and a half.

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.

The Trump administration had proposed tariffs of more than 200 percent, but the U.S. International Trade Commission ended up overturning the tariffs on Montreal-based Bombardier.

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