Delta Air Lines has placed a firm order with Airbus for 30 A321ceo (current engine option) and 10 A330-300 widebodies, Delta’s first order with Airbus in two decades.
When delivered, the 30 Airbus A321s will be the first examples of the model to be operated by Delta Air Lines.
Several other North American carriers ‒ Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and US Airways among them ‒ already operate or have ordered A321s, either in the A321ceo or A321neo (new engine option) form, and the stretched Airbus A320-family model is increasingly being seen as a natural replacement for the Boeing 757 on U.S. domestic and regional international route.
Atlanta-based Delta has selected CFM56-5B engines from CFM International to power its A321s and CF6-80E1 engines from GE Aviation for its new Airbus A330-300 jets.
Additionally, Delta has selected the new, 242-tonne high gross weight version of the A330-300 for its 10-aircraft widebody order. Delta says it will use the aircraft’s versatility to optimize its transpacific and transatlantic networks.
Delta will become the first airline to operate the new A330-300 version. The 242-tonne version will offer up to 500 nautical miles of extra range or the ability to carry nearly five metric tonnes more payload than the previous highest-weight version of the A330-300, which has a maximum gross take-off weight of 235-metric tonnes.
The 10 A330-300s will augment Delta’s existing fleet of 32 A330s. The first A330 delivery is scheduled for spring 2015, with three additional aircraft scheduled for delivery that year, four in 2016, and the final two in 2017.
Delta currently operates GE CF6 engines, similar to those on its new A330-300s, on more than 60 widebody aircraft. Additionally, Delta was CFM International’s first customer and launched the CFM56 engine into commercial service on April 24, 1982 when it flew the first McDonnell Douglas DC-8-71 powered by CFM56-2 engines on a flight between Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.
Today, Delta operates approximately 210 Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family aircraft powered by CFM56 engines. When the September 4 order for 30 A321s is included, Delta has 130 additional CFM56-powered aircraft yet to be delivered.
Each of Delta’s new A330-300s will feature 34 flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in BusinessElite, 32 extra-legroom seats in Economy Comfort and 227 Economy seats, for a total of 293 seats.
The A330-300s will feature in-flight Wi-Fi and an advanced in-flight entertainment system featuring a library of more than 1,000 on-demand options, as well as standard 110-volt power, modern interiors with LED lighting, and extra-capacity overhead bins.
Meanwhile, Delta’s 30 new Airbus A321 jets will expand Delta’s existing fleet of 126 A320-family domestic aircraft. Delta’s first three A321s are scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2016, with 12 more due in that year. The remaining 15 jets are scheduled for delivery in 2017.
All of Delta’s A321s will feature Sharklets – lightweight composite wing-tip devices that offer up to 4 per cent fuel-burn savings, giving airlines the flexibility of either adding 100 nautical miles range or increased payload capability of nearly 1,000 pounds (up to 450 kilograms).
Many of Delta’s A321s are expected to be assembled at the new Airbus A320-family assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, currently under construction and scheduled to deliver its first aircraft in 2016. The facility represents a $600 million dollar investment in the Gulf Coast region, and will provide 1,000 new jobs in that community.
Each of Delta’s A321s will seat 190 people in two classes.
The A321 is the largest member of the A320 family. To date, more than 9,800 A320-family aircraft have been ordered and more than 5,600 delivered to nearly 390 customers and operators. More than 1,250 A330s have been ordered to date and about 1.2 billion passengers around the world have flown in A330s to and from the 300 airports the A330 family now serves.
“We are always gratified by a significant order from a current operator, as it is the best endorsement of the value and dependability of the Airbus product line,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer – customers. “We have long-standing partnerships with the Delta team.”
Adds Leahy: “Nonetheless, this is the first-ever Delta order for our modern family of comfortable and efficient A320 and A330 aircraft. We look forward to seeing the growth of the Airbus fleet at Delta meet and exceed the needs of the airline’s customers and employees for many years to come.”
“Delta is excited to select Airbus to partner with us as we continue our fleet renewal,” says Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines’ president. “These A330 and A321 aircraft offer a combination of economic efficiency and excellent customer satisfaction, which we experience with the 158 Airbus aircraft currently in our fleet.”