Delta Air Lines has ordered another 37 Airbus A321-200s, increasing its total orders for the type to 82 aircraft.
The airline’s latest A321-200 order makes it apparent that, along with the Boeing 737-900ER, Delta will use the type to replace the Boeing 757s and MD-88s it now uses on its domestic network.
Today Delta operates 87 757-200s and 116 MD-88s on U.S. domestic routes. Almost all its 757s are in 199-seat configuration (Delta uses four 757s for VIP charter work) and each of its MD-88s has 149 seats.
Delta ordered 120 737-900ERs, each of which is fitted with 180 seats. Delta will operate its A321s in a 192-seat cabin configuration.
Atlanta-based Delta took delivery of its first A321 in March.
As with its previous A321 orders in 2013 and 2014, Delta has selected CFM International’s CFM56-5B engine to power the 37 additional A321s it ordered on April 29.
The A321s from Delta’s latest order are scheduled to begin delivery in 2017, according to CFM.
Airbus says many of Delta’s A321s will be delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Aircraft assembly there began in July 2015, with the first aircraft, an A321 for JetBlue Airways, being delivered on April 25.
Of the first 50 aircraft scheduled for delivery from the new Mobile assembly line, 49 will be A321s. Airbus expects almost all aircraft assembled on the Mobile line to be A321s and A321neos, because its U.S. airline customers are primarily growing by adding larger aircraft rather than new domestic routes.
By the end of 2017, the Mobile facility is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most or all of them going to Airbus’ U.S. customers.
“The Airbus A320 family of aircraft continues to be a cost-efficient, reliable and customer-pleasing mainstay of our narrowbody fleet,” says Ed Bastian, Delta’s incoming chief executive.
“The order for the A321s is an opportunistic fleet move that enables us to produce strong returns and cost-effectively accelerate the retirement of Delta’s 116 MD-88s in a capital-efficient manner,” adds Bastian.
As of the end of March, Delta was flying a fleet of 165 Airbus aircraft, including 127 A320-family jets and 38 A330 widebodies.
In addition to its A320-family aircraft orders, the airline has outstanding Airbus orders for five high-gross weight A330-300s, 25 A330-900neos and 25 A350-900s.
Delta’s latest A321 engine order with CFM also includes a five-year Material Support Agreement (MSA) for the CFM56-5B/-7B engines in the Delta fleet.
The carrier was actually CFM International’s first customer, launching the CFM56 into commercial service on April 24, 1982 when it flew the first McDonnell Douglas DC-8-71 aircraft, powered by four CFM56-2 engines, on a flight between Atlanta and Savannah.
Today, the airline has in service or on order more than 410 Airbus A320-family and Boeing 737-family aircraft powered by CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B engines, respectively.
“The start of our relationship with Delta was a pivotal point in CFM history,” says Jean-Paul Ebanga, president and CEO of CFM. “Without the confidence they showed in us back then, we simply would not exist today. It is incredibly gratifying that, 34 years later, Delta still counts on CFM to power its single-aisle fleet.”
Delta’s latest A321 order comes just a day after the airline announced a firm order for 75 Bombardier CS100 jets, Delta also securing options (which it can convert to specify the larger CS300 if it wishes) on another 50 of the type.