Delta Air Lines has ordered a further 25 Airbus A321neo aircraft. The deal, confirmed on Thursday, adds to the 100 A321neo planes Delta ordered in 2017. Delta expects to take delivery of its first A321neo in the first half of 2022.
125 Airbus A321neos now coming to Delta, with options for 100 more
With this week’s order, Delta’s total purchase commitment for the A321neo is now 125 firm aircraft, with 100 purchase rights. A Senior Vice President at Delta, Mahendra Nair, said in a statement;
“This agreement positions Delta for growth while accounting for the planned retirements of older narrowbody aircraft in our fleet, addresses our carbon footprint, increases efficiency, and elevates the customer experience.”
In addition to ordering the A321neos, Delta negotiated with Airbus to bring forward the delivery of two A350-900s and one A330-900neo. These three planes will now come to Delta in the second half of 2022.
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer, said it was “gratifying” to be back doing purchase deals with airlines and watch the industry regroup.
“We have managed the challenges of the last year together with our customers,” says the Airbus executive.
New A321neos destined to work across Delta’s domestic network
Complementing Delta’s Airbus A321ceo fleet of more than 100 aircraft, the A321neos will see service across Delta’s domestic United States network. The A321neos will seat 194 customers, with 20 seats in first class, 42 seats in Delta Comfort Plus, and 132 seats in the main economy cabin.
The A321neo will replace older Boeing 757s and Airbus A320s in Delta’s fleet. The average age of Delta’s Boeing 757s is nearly 24 years. The average age of Delta’s 55 A320s is just over 25 years.
This week’s order builds on an existing solid relationship between Delta Air Lines and the big European planemaker. It also underscores an uneasy existing relationship between Delta and its local plane manufacturer, Boeing. In the lead-up to Delta’s first 2017 A321neo order, Boeing’s 737 MAX was reportedly in the race.
Airbus gains ground on Boeing at Delta
While never an exclusively Boeing airline, Delta Air Lines traditionally had a long-running preference for Boeing planes. Understandable, perhaps, for a United States-based airline to favor a United States-based aircraft manufacturer. But in the last decade, Airbus had made significant inroads at Delta Air Lines.
That can be traced back to 2014. In that year, Delta rebooted its commercial relationship with Airbus and, over a series of deals, ordered 10 A330-300s, 25 A330-900neos, 30 A321ceos, and 25 A350-900s. Since then, they’ve beefed up their A321ceo order significantly. In 2017, Delta dove in again and ordered the first 100 A321neos.
In contrast, since 2014, Delta has ordered just 30 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft. That built on a significant 2011 order for 100 737-900ER planes.
In the latter half of the last decade, Boeing and Delta became embroiled in a nasty trade dispute after a 300% tariff was slapped on the C Series jets Delta was importing. Boeing and Delta took opposite sides in the dispute. Boeing suggested Delta’s deal to buy the C Series planes was underhand and Delta obtained the aircraft at below cost price.
The bad blood from that very public spat may still be proving beneficial for Airbus. The European plane manufacturer now calls Delta a long-standing partner.
Delta says their new Airbus A321neos will be powered by next-generation Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofan engines. The new planes will see 12% better fuel efficiency measured against the current A321 current engine (ceo) aircraft. Delta also notes this week’s deal aligns nicely with its sustainability goals and commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral airline.