Delta Airlines announced an order for 100 Airbus A321neos with an option for 100 more planes Thursday in a move that the carrier says will help to refresh its fleet; the order is part of a strategy to offer bigger single-aisle planes on domestic routes and short international flights. Delivery of the planes will start in 2020 and run through 2023. The deal is worth $12.7 billion at list prices, but Delta will probably receive a discount on the planes.
“This is the right transaction at the right time for our customers, our employees and our shareholders,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “Delta, Airbus and Pratt & Whitney share the same commitment to safety, efficiency, innovation and continuously improving the customer experience.”
“The A321neo will equip Delta employees with a customer-preferred, versatile narrowbody aircraft befitting their position as a global airline leader — and we are excited to continue to partner with them as they deliver industry-leading operational performance, customer satisfaction and financial results,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer — Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft.
Delta’s A321s will have 197 seats in a three-class configuration. There will be 20 first class seats, 30 Delta Comfort+ seats (economy seats with extra legroom), and 147 economy class seats. The plane will have on-demand in-flight entertainment, high-speed satellite WiFi, and power ports. It will feature ‘bookshelf-style’ overhead bins that are 25% larger than normal.
The A321neo’s Pratt & Whitney engines consume 40% less fuel per passenger than the Mcdonnell Douglas MD-88s that they will replace. These engines will be manufactured in the U.S.
This order is a victory for Airbus in its market share battle with Boeing. Multiple reports from early this week say that Delta had been considering purchasing Boeing 737 MAX 10 planes before opting for the A321neo.
“This purchase furthers our commitment to U.S. aviation – a commitment that has never been stronger,” said Leahy. “Today, there is more U.S. content in Airbus aircraft than from any other country, with more than 40% of our aircraft-related procurement coming from the United States. In addition, our workforce at the U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama is proud that they will be delivering many of these A321neos to Delta in the coming years.”
Boeing says that, no matter which plane Delta chose, this year has been strong. “We’re pleased with the significant amount of order wins at Boeing this year,” the company said in a statement. “And we competed with a strong but disciplined offer in the Delta campaign. While Delta has chosen to go with Airbus and Bombardier in recent single-aisle campaigns, we are proud of the 737 MAX family’s superior value and performance.
“Delta remains a valued customer, and we’ll continue exploring ways to best meet their needs in the future,” Boeing continued. “Globally, we have 367 orders and commitments from 16 customers for the 737 MAX 10 — an airplane that delivers unmatched operating economics and fuel efficiency. We’ll keep making that case with our customers here and around the world.”
Delta TechOps is also announcing an agreement with Pratt & Whitney to allow the manufacturer to be a major maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider for the PurePower PW1100G and PW1500G engines that power Delta’s A321 and C Series aircraft. This will drive significant job creation in the Delta TechOps workforce and comes as the airline is making significant investments in its engine overhaul capabilities at its Atlanta Technical Operations Center.
“Pratt & Whitney’s commitment to complete over 5,000 engine repairs and overhauls at Delta TechOps is possible because of the high level of professionalism and quality MRO work the Delta TechOps team performs for the Delta fleet and to more than 150 additional airline and aviation customers based across the globe,” said Delta COO Gil West. “Delta TechOps’ position as an MRO industry leader and the largest in North America will be fortified even further with the addition of Pratt & Whitney engines to its extensive portfolio.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of our long-standing relationship with Delta, which dates back to the 1930s,” said Pratt & Whitney President Robert Leduc. “Fast forward nearly 90 years, and the GTF engine has revolutionized aviation technology, and will provide Delta with proven performance and environmental benefits. We are honored to power and support Delta’s new fleet of A321neo aircraft well into the future.”
“The addition of geared-turbofan technical knowledge at Delta TechOps will not only be applied to the 200 engines that will power Delta’s A321neo fleet, but will also uniquely position TechOps as an MRO leader in this space as future engine types are developed,” West said.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons