MIAMI – Delta Air Lines has placed an incremental order for 30 firm additional A321ceo aircraft and to defer 10 of the airline’s 25 A350-900 aircraft deliveries set for 2019-2020 by two to three years with additional delivery flexibility.
This order follows three previous Delta orders for the Current Engine Option version of the largest Airbus A320 Family member. The airline took delivery of its first A321 in March of last year. Delta now has ordered a total of 112 A321s, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.
Delta’s delivery schedule for its first A350-900 aircraft remains in place, and the airline plans to operate its first A350 revenue flight in the fourth quarter, featuring the Delta One Suite and Premium Select cabin. Delta expects to take delivery of five A350s beginning later this year, replacing the 747s based in Detroit for service to Asia.
“These agreements better align our widebody and narrowbody order books with our fleet replacement needs,” said Gil West, Delta’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The A321’s comfort, performance, and economics make it a very compelling aircraft for Delta in our domestic route network.”
The wide-body deferrals have long been rumored and Delta is not alone. The wide body market is softening worldwide with deferrals becoming common as well as a slowing of orders. American deferred its new A350s to late 2018 and some of its 787-9s as well. United is rumored to be deferring, cancelling, or converting its A350-1000 orders, though additional end of line 777-300ERs could be ordered as well. The Airbus A321 is the sweet spot of the market right now.
Delta currently operates 19 A321s, and this expansion will bring the total firm delivery aircraft from 82 to 112 by 2021. The A321 aircraft will primarily be deployed on U.S. domestic routes as older domestic-gauge aircraft retire during the next several years.
“Delta’s vote of confidence in the A321ceo – which takes the airline now to more than 100 of the type on order – demonstrates the passenger, operator and investor appeal of this aircraft,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers for Airbus Commercial Aircraft.
All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer up to 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives airlines the option of extending their range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometers or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.
Many of Delta’s A321s are being delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. The airline received its first U.S.-manufactured A321 last year. By the end of 2017, the Airbus facility in Mobile is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most going to Airbus’ U.S. customers.
As of the end of April, Delta was flying a fleet of 187 Airbus aircraft, including 145 A320 Family members and 42 A330 widebodies.