MIAMI – Thursday, Delta Air Lines took contractual delivery of their first Airbus A350 in Toulouse, France. The aircraft, N501DN, is the first A350 delivered to an airline in the United States.
“The Airbus A350 sets a new standard of flying experience for our customers, representing years of product innovation as Delta continues to transform into a leading global carrier,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO. “Our new flagship A350 fits well in Delta’s long-haul network, combining an exceptional customer experience with strong operating economics and fuel-efficiency as we retire older, less-efficient aircraft.”
Delta will not fly the aircraft to the United States right away. Instead, the A350 will remain in Toulouse until August 4th as the aircraft receives Gogo’s 2Ku wifi.
— Alan Janbay (@AlanJanbay) July 13, 2017
N501DN is the first of 25 A350s on order with Delta. The order stems from Delta’s November 2014 order of 25 A350-900s and 25 A330-900neos.
At present time, there are five Delta bound A350s being assembled. The first aircraft, N501DN, is currently undergoing post-delivery modifications. The second aircraft, N502DN, was recently painted in the Delta livery and will soon conduct test flights.
The third aircraft, N503DN, is currently performing stationary ground tests as it awaits being painted. The fourth and fifth aircraft, N504DN and N505DN, are both undergoing final assembly.
Delta plans on taking delivery of all five aircraft in 2017. After these five, Delta will take six more A350s in 2018, seven in 2019, and seven more from 2020-2021.
In March, Delta deferred delivery of 10 A350s as part of an order for 30 A321s. At the time, Gil West, Delta’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said:
“These agreements better align our widebody and narrowbody order books with our fleet replacement needs. We appreciate the partnership of Airbus, Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation as we exercise what’s best for our business, our employees and our customers.”
The Delta A350-900 will be fitted with the new Delta One Suite. The aircraft will have 32 Delta One Suites, 48 Delta Comfort+ seats, and 226 economy seats. In total, the A350 will seat 306 passengers.
The first Delta A350 commercial flight will be on October 30th from Detroit to Tokyo-Narita. The A350 is set to replace the Boeing 747-400 as Delta’s flagship aircraft. The first crew base for the A350 will be Detroit.
Delta says the A350 will “continue Delta’s optimization of its Pacific network, operating primarily on long-range routes between the U.S. and Asia.” The aircraft is expected to generate a 20% improvement in operating costs compared to the 747-400.
After Tokyo-Narita, the A350 will fly from Detroit to Seoul beginning November 16th and Beijing beginning January 17th.