Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is reportedly close to placing a huge order for additional widebodied aircraft with Airbus. As first reported by Reuters, the US major is evaluating several types, and any final order is expected to be for “dozens” of widebody jets which is also likely to include an order for the long-range A350-1000.
Depending on how last-minute negotiations pan out and barring any last-minute hitches, a deal could be made public as early as January 12, 2024, when the company will report its fourth quarter (Q4) earnings to investors and markets.
When questioned specifically on the speculation by Reuters, Airbus declined to comment, while Delta said it does not comment on industry speculation.
While the Atlanta-based carrier placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets in 2022, it has primarily been an Airbus customer in recent years.
Delta’s current fleet comprises various types from the two major manufacturers. While there are 458 Airbus aircraft currently online, Boeing has the edge with 520 operational aircraft within the carrier’s fleet.
In terms of Airbus widebodies currently flying for Delta, the airline has 69 A330s in total – 11 A330-200s, 31 A330-300s, and 27 A330-900neos with a further 12 on order. The airline also operates 28 A350-900s on its books with a further six on order.
Should the carrier order the larger A350-1000 variant, this will be the first time that Delta has opted for the largest type in the current Airbus product line and will make Delta the first operator of the type in the US.
The new additions are expected to assist the company in growing its network in Asia-Pacific, which has been lagging behind the US and Europe in global travel demand recovery after the pandemic.
However, US carriers are betting on the region as the next source of high-margin revenue at a time of soaring costs. In the current quarter, Delta, United Airlines, and American Airlines are all estimated to increase seats on their flights to the region by more than 70% over capacity offered in 2023.
Airlines have been rushing to order new aircraft in recent months to renew existing fleets and to address the issue of soaring demand and fast-filling order books extending lead times from manufacturers.