Delta Bets Big On The Airbus A330neo

Delta Air Lines is leasing two more A330-900neo aircraft and has negotiated with Airbus to quicken the delivery pace of its existing order for the wide-body long-range aircraft. Delta Air Lines only received its first A330-900neo three months ago and the plane already seems to have made a good impression at the airline’s Atlanta HQ.

Delta a330neo
Delta is set to receive seven A330-900neos in 2020. Photo: Delta Air Lines

An unexpected and “opportunistic” lease opportunity

In a tidy play, Delta will take two A330-900neos from Air Lease Corporation under a long term lease agreement. The first plane will be delivered in the last quarter of 2020 and the second plane is due to be delivered in the first quarter of 2021. David Beker, a Vice President at Air Lease Corporate said in a statement;

“We are excited to work with our friends at Delta as the airline invests in additional A330-900neo aircraft to continue to deliver an excellent premium experience to customers as a leading global airline.”

The two A330-900neos will come to Air Lease Corporation factory fresh from an existing Air Lease Corporation order at Airbus. They’ll be passed right along to Delta Air Lines, complete with that nice new plane smell. Delta Air Lines executive Greg May said;

“These two incremental aircraft represent an opportunistic play to fulfil our near term widebody aircraft needs for our customers and employees as older generation aircraft are retired and to support measured growth in 2021.”

Delta A330neo side
Delta is currently operating four A330-900neos. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Flight Global is reporting that the Delta A330-900neos will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engines and maintained by Delta TechOps. Rolls Royce says these engines will help the A330-900neo deliver a fuel burn improvement of 14% compared to its predecessor.

Delta is also speeding up some existing A330-900neo deliveries

Additionally, Delta Air Lines has negotiated to speed up the delivery schedule for a portion of its existing order of A330-900neos from Airbus. Delta says three deliveries have been accelerated. Two will arrive in a year’s time, in the final quarter of 2020, and the third will arrive in the first quarter of 2021. Delta Air Lines notes it anticipates taking delivery of seven A330-900neos next year.

Currently, Delta has four A330-900neos in service with the first only been delivered in May this year. With the seven scheduled to be delivered in 2020 and two more in early 2021, that will take their A330-900neo fleet to 13 aircraft within a two year period. It is a big vote of confidence in the aircraft and the European manufacturer. The majority of Delta Air Lines’ fleet are Boeings but Delta was the United States launch customer for the A330-900neo and has 31 on order all up.

The A330-900neo will make up a small fraction of the overall Delta fleet. Photo: Delta Air Lines.

Delta’s current A330-900neos are keeping busy

The four aircraft currently in service are kept busy crisscrossing the North Pacific and North America. N401DZ is currently flying between Seattle and Shanghai, operating DL589. N402DX has just landed in Seattle from Detroit. N403DX is due to head across to Detroit from Seattle shortly. N404DX has left Shanghai and is heading across to Seattle as DL588. The aircraft also commenced flying between Seattle and Incheon last month. Later this week, the Delta Air Lines A330-900neo is scheduled to debut on the Seattle – Narita route.

With a soon to be fleet of 11 and with dozens more on order, the A330-900neo would dominate the long haul fleet of many airlines but Delta Airlines has 915 aircraft up in the air and at airports around the world tonight. When fully rolled out, Delta’s A330-900neos will make up about 3% of their total fleet. You’ll see them on some routes and while Delta Air Lines clearly likes the plane, their order represents a tinkering around the edges of their current overall fleet rather than a seismic shift.

Still, you’d be mighty pleased if you found yourself on one.