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The Airbus A220 program has seen a huge boost from its early days as the Bombardier CSeries. Airbus is starting 2019 with more than 500 orders. Wednesday, the company broke ground on a brand-new facility in Alabama that’ll help it meet that demand.

Located just a few feet from the Airbus A320 / A321 final assembly line in Mobile, by the middle of the next decade the new A220 facility will be able to produce four A220s per month in Alabama. That’s in addition to the aircraft already coming through the existing facility in Mirabel, Quebec, not far from Montreal. Airbus bought the C-Series program from Bombardier in 2017, and renamed it following its own naming convention last summer.

Just ahead of the groundbreaking, Airbus CEO Tom Enders explained the decision to expand A220 final assembly operations to Alabama:

“When we did the deal with our Canadian friends, it was obvious that we should really produce this aircraft also in the United States — in times of protectionism and nationalism and tariffs and so on, but also because the single largest market for this wonderful 220 is North America.”

Regardless of the current political climate, there’s no question that an expansion is required to meet demand.

So far, Delta has ordered a total of 90 planes, including 40 of the smaller A220-100s and 50 A220-300s. JetBlue’s placed a huge order as well, for a total of 60 A220-300s, replacing the carrier’s Embraer fleet, while newcomer Moxy is planning to take on 60 of the larger -300 jets.

The economy cabin on Delta’s Airbus A220-100. Photo by Darren Murph/TPG.

While Delta’s own rollout of service on the A220 may encounter some unfortunate delays following the ongoing federal government shutdown, the addition of a Mobile final assembly line should make it possible for carriers to add A220 flights more quickly, expanding on the list of routes DL has already announced, and JetBlue’s planned transcons.

The aircraft is also on its way to receiving ETOPS-180 approval from all required agencies, paving the way for flights across the Atlantic, and from the US mainland to Hawaii.

The A220 may be a single-aisle aircraft, but with economy seats that measure a minimum of 18.5 inches, larger windows and wider aisles, it’ll offer a far more comfortable ride than many wide-body jets.

With a range of more than 3,600 miles and a capacity of up to 160 passengers on the larger A220-300, the aircraft will enable airlines to test the waters with new routes, thanks to much improved operational economics — compared to some older planes of similar size, the A220 offers a more than 20% savings on fuel burn per seat.

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