And as well as the firm order for six, Croatia Airlines in Zagreb said it plans to lease another nine A220s. The wings of the A220, a narrow-bodied passenger jet, are made at Spirit AeroSystems in east Belfast.

Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of international, said: “We are thrilled to add Croatia Airlines as a new A220 customer.

“The A220 is ideally suited to Croatia’s aviation needs, providing operational flexibility and efficiency allowing its airline to pursue its ambition for both regional and international connectivity without compromising on any aspect, be it passenger comfort or trip and seat cost economics.”

According to Airbus, the A220s will replace previous generation aircraft in the company’s fleet, “reducing operating costs as well as improving environmental efficiency and competitiveness”.

Jasmin Bajić, chief executive and president of the management board of Croatia Airlines, said the deal marked a new era in aviation for the airline, and Croatia’s tourism and economy as a whole.

The A220 project started out as the C-Series programme at Bombardier, the former owner of the aerospace factory in east Belfast.

But the C-Series project was later sold to Airbus, which renamed it the A220.

The work on its wings continued in Belfast, and two years ago, Bombardier was bought over by US company Spirit AeroSystems.

Airbus said 230 A220s have now been delivered to 16 airlines operating on four continents.  The fleet is now flying on over 800 routes, while orders have been placed for 780 A220s.

In its recent company results for 2021, Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast managed to slash its losses from $500.2m in 2020 to $76.5m.

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