ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines (DL) took delivery of two new Airbus A321 aircraft from the planemaker’s final assembly site in Mobile, Alabama on Friday, August 28. The aircraft, registered N103DY and N104DN, are the first new planes to join the Atlanta-based carrier’s fleet since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As seen through FlightAware, both planes were flown from Mobile to Minneapolis, one of Delta’s strategic hubs.
A Longer-than-normal Wait
Both planes have spent a considerable amount of time in Mobile after exiting the final assembly line in early 2020. According to AIB Family Flights, N103DY conducted its first taxi checks on March 10 of this year followed by a first flight three days later on the 13th. The aircraft conducted a series of test flights throughout March followed by additional test flights in June and August.
The second plane, N104DN, conducted its first flight in late May but would not fly again until August 3. Traditionally, the turnaround time on A320 family aircraft from first flight to delivery is only a few short weeks.
Delta Airbus Deliveries
As of today, according to Planespotters.net, DL has a total of 75 Airbus A321 in service. Together with the 25 planes that are parked throughout the United States, the airline has 100 A321. The average age of these planes is only 2.3 years old.
Last year, the airline took delivery of its 50th A321 from the Mobile, Alabama assembly line. At the time, the delivery of that A321 was not just a milestone for Airbus but also a new chapter for DL, as both the airline and the manufacturer continued to work together on sustainability projects that produce aircraft capable of flying on a new blend of sustainable fuels.
Airbus’ final assembly site in Mobile has become somewhat of a parking lot for new airliners bound for DL as delivers came to an abrupt stop in mid-March.
Multiple additional A321 and A220-300 aircraft sporting the Delta livery have completed final assembly in Mobile and await their turn to join the Delta fleet.
One of these Airbus A220-300 was the first ex-Bombardier CSeries jet to undergo final assembly in the United States. The airframe, N301DU, underwent completion inside of the A320 assembly line, as the A220 factory had not yet finished construction.
Stored Delta Fleet
Throughout the pandemic, Airbus in Mobile has delivered several A320 family aircraft to both Frontier Airlines (F9) and Spirit Airlines (NK).
Additional new Delta planes, including several wide-body Airbus A330-900 and A350-900 aircraft, remain in storage in Toulouse, France.
Currently, over 300 DL planes remain in various forms of storage throughout the United States, Latin America, and China. The four aircraft in China are Boeing 767-400 that were undergoing heavy maintenance and interior upgrades as the global aviation industry significantly slowed in March of 2020.
Some of these parked aircraft, specifically some Boeing 737-700, 767-300, 777, and Airbus A320 will be permanently retired.
Featured image: Delta Air Lines Airbus A321-211 (N380DN). | Photo: © Tyler Lorenz.