Delta Orders 25 Additional Airbus A321neos

Filed Under: Delta

Delta Air Lines has just placed a firm order for an additional 25 planes.

Delta now has 125 A321neos on order

Delta has just firmed up an order for an additional 25 Airbus A321neos, bringing the Atlanta-based carrier’s total A321neo order to 125 aircraft. The airline previously had purchase options for these planes, but has only now finalized the order. Now Delta still has purchase options for an additional 100 A321neos, meaning the airline could eventually order 225 of these planes.

Delta will take delivery of its first A321neo in the first half of 2022. What’s interesting is that while other airlines are already taking delivery of the A321neo (and A321LR, for that matter), Delta is currently still taking delivery of “last generation” A321s.

It’s an odd strategy, since the plane is outdated in terms of fuel efficiency and range the second the airline takes delivery of it. Presumably the contract for those was signed before A321neo production started, though often these deals can be negotiated. Hopefully Delta got a good deal on those planes.

Delta is still taking delivery of previous generation A321s

What to expect from Delta’s A321neos

The biggest benefit of the A321neo over the previous generation A321 is that it’s more fuel efficient and longer range. For example, the A321neo is 12% more fuel efficient than the previous version of the A321, so that’s fantastic.

Delta’s A321neos will feature a total of 194 seats, including 20 first class seats, 42 Comfort+ seats, and 132 economy seats. This will also be the aircraft on which Delta’s new domestic first class seat debuts, which will feature a bit more privacy, for better or worse.

Delta A321neo first class

As you’d expect, the A321neo will feature personal televisions and power ports at every seat, plus high speed Wi-Fi.

The A321neo will be used primarily on domestic flights, and will largely replace Delta’s huge fleet of Boeing 757-200s and 757-300s, which are used for similar flights (though Delta also has some premium configured 757-200s, using for premium transcon and transatlantic flights).

Delta accelerates three wide body deliveries

Delta has also announced plans to accelerate delivery of three long haul aircraft. In the second half of 2022, Delta will take delivery of two A350-900s and one A330-900neo. I would imagine this was part of a larger negotiation with Airbus — presumably Airbus had some earlier delivery slots for these planes available, and gave Delta an incentive to take them.

Delta is accelerating delivery of some wide bodies

Bottom line

Delta has increased its firm Airbus A321neo order by 25 aircraft, bringing the total to 125 aircraft. Delta will start taking delivery of the A321neo as of the first half of 2022, which is when the airline should stop taking delivery of previous generation A321s. Delta’s new domestic first class seat will also debut on the A321neo.

What do you make of Delta increasing its A321neo order?

  1. Love the additional commitment to the a321 for two reasons:

    1) airbus narrow-bodies have slightly wider seats which makes for a much more comfortable ride. Everyone talks legroom but seat width is my main metric

    2) it’s not an order for the MAX

  2. Not a fan of those new first class seats from the look of it. It looks like a lame premium economy product.

    This is a smart move. Delta is flying lots of a321’s between Nyc and Miami and Atl to Lax, Miami

  3. Also; it is being reported that JetBlue’s a321lr will have 24 mint seats vs the 16 currently on their regular a321.

    I think this is a very poor decision on JetBlue’s part. Business demand in the future is unknown and they are filling too much of the cabin with premium seats.

    …on the other hand, it will only cause prices to go down with too much supply !!

  4. Delta has said their fuel efficiency has improved by more than 10% even before taking delivery of the A321NEOs so they clearly are able to get the costs out better than their peers even with older generation aircraft.
    It is also “odd” that Delta is keeping its 757s – over 100 of them – at least into the mid 2020s and probably closer until the end of this decade – because the fuel efficiency gains from one generation of engines to the next do not generally pay for the increased ownership costs for narrowbody domestic aircraft. Many of Delta’s new domestic aircraft are making a two generation jump in efficiency from the aircraft they are replacing-partly from larger size.
    International aircraft are somewhat different where fuel efficiency matters most. On that metric, Delta’s international fleet is already more efficient than American or United’s and that will continue as Delta takes more A330NEOs and A350s.
    Delta has also won engine maintenance contracts to maintain other airlines’ engines from Rolls Royce for widebody engines and Pratt and Whitney for narrowbody engines (including the A220 and A321NEO). Every aircraft that Delta currently has on order is powered by engines that Delta will maintain itself and sell services to do the same to other airlines and the engine makers, essentially subsidizing the cost of Delta’s own fleet replacement.
    Delta has also said it is skeptical of the economics of narrowbody transoceanic flights based on pilot costs and lack of ability to carry cargo.
    Most significantly, the add-on A321NEO order says that Delta expects a strong recovery and can easily get the aircraft on short notice to fuel that recovery while shifting to more efficient aircraft as business travel pays a lower percentage of the bills.

  5. “ Delta has said their fuel efficiency has improved by more than 10% even before taking delivery of the A321NEOs so they clearly are able to get the costs out better than their peers even with older generation aircraft.”

    Oh Tim… your Delta propaganda never ceases to amaze. Sure… delta is magically getting their identical planes to be more fuel efficient than peers. Lol.
    Keep the jokes rolling.

  6. Delta’s fuel efficiency is higher because of the aircraft TYPES that it has and does not have compared to its competitors, not because Delta gets better fuel efficiency than its peers for the same type with the same configuration.
    Delta has the A220 for a small, efficient new generation narrowbody; AA and UA don’t have the A220 or E2 jets. Only B6 of operating airlines have chosen that class of aircraft. Even the 717 has better fuel efficiency per seat than regional jets; Delta now has only about four dozen 50 seat regional jets left – those are the least fuel efficient airplanes per seat in the US carrier fleet.
    Delta got rid of its 777s which are 25% less fuel efficient than A330-300s (current engine technology). The A330-900 (NEO) and A350 is even more efficient. AA and UA have scores of 777s, esp. 777-200ERs; their 777-300ERs are fairly new so they will be inefficient for years to come. AA’s widebody inefficiency is even greater because they have dozens fewer seats on their 777-300ERs than United and almost the same number of seats as Delta has on the A350-900.
    And Delta removed galleys and added seats to its 757s in order to increase fuel efficiency per seat, the same strategy AA used on its 737-800/MAX8 fleet to get to comparable levels of efficiency as other airlines’ 737-900s/MAX9s. The 777X is a larger aircraft than earlier 777s to improve fuel efficiency per seat even with new generation engines.
    Fuel efficiency is also about use. Even with the MD80, Delta’s system fuel efficiency was not as bad as it could have been because they used the M80s on shorter flights and used more fuel efficient aircraft on longer flights.
    The A321 is a far better replacement to the 757, esp. the A321NEO, than anything is for the 767 which is why DL and UA have not replaced them. 767-300ERs with winglets burn only a few percent more fuel than the 787-8 while the 767-400 is less than 10% more than 787s on a per seat basis. Even with a shrinking pool of 767 operators, there is still a need for a new generation small widebody. The 787-8 and A330-800 (NEO) do not meet that need as evidenced by the low numbers of orders for both.
    American had the Rolls-Royce maintenance contract for earlier generation engines but dropped it, allowing Delta to pick it up for new generation engines.

  7. @Sharon
    JetBlue isn’t trying to grow business traffic in a new market: it is trying to steal existing business traffic (even if overall that has reduced) from existing operators in one of the world’s biggest premium markets.

    For example, BA and AA pre-covid operated two dozen wide-body flights every day in the NYLON market — and don’t forget that these wide-bodies were also in premium-dense layouts. That’s hundreds of business class pax every day.

    JetBlue wants to fly the same route a couple of times a day offering a total of ~50 J class seats. They should easily be able to get that — especially when they seem to be paying so much attention to getting the product right.

  8. This strategy doesn’t seem odd at all. Delta is pretty conservative when buying aircraft – i.e., they would rather get a deal on an aircraft that has been in production for a while and tested in the real world vs. be the lead customer on an aircraft. I’ve actually considered it odd that Delta would be the lead on the NMA (if that ever even happens).

  9. Sharon don’t conflate business class with people flying for work purposes

    There is a robust and growing market of people flying for leisure who want to pay for and sit in the business class cabin.

  10. @Tim Dunn Should also note many of their 757s are ETOPS rated and are vital for routes to Hawaii. I’m not sure if their 739s and A321s also have ETOPS, but as of now it’s mostly their 757s serving Hawaii from the West Coast, which is an incentive to keep the 757.

  11. I’m so excited to see these planes having more seats than AA’s configuration. InDuStRy LeAdErS!

  12. Juan,
    Delta tried 737-900ERs to Hawaii but pulled back. Reportedly, the first batch of DL A321NEOs will be used for Hawaii and then later for US transcons (presumably NYC and BOS to the west coast). Delta uses its A321ceos only for “2/3 transcons” such as ATL/DTW to the west coast or SLC to the east coast.
    Like the M80s, DL is likely to shift the 757s to shorter domestic flights where the lower fuel efficiency is less of an issue.
    The 757 also has alot of performance that makes it good for certain airports.

    Airbus is redoing the emergency door/windows on the new A321s so it will seat more people than older A321s. AA’s NEOs seat 2 more than DL plans.

  13. @Tim Dunn – Thank you for the detailed explanation on Delta’s strategy to align the most efficient aircraft available to it to its route map, rather than based on rule of thumb fuel burn per mile metrics. Delta does an amazing job with in-house maintenance and if they can subsidize the maintenance of their own aircraft by servicing those owned by others even better.

  14. DLPTATL,
    my point was simply to highlight that Delta’s fleet complexity has had advantages and its maintenance deals are unique enough in the industry that they provide benefit to DL which other airlines don’t get.
    For example, Delta has been paid by Rolls-Royce to fix Virgin Atlantic’s 787 engine issues; that type of thing doesn’t happen a whole lot.

  15. An angle not covered here is the “Engine” part of “New Engine Option”. Delta is switching from CFM56s on its current A321CEOs to the PW GTF which creates commonality with the A220.

  16. Bastian, what a piece of work. Excoriating ME3 for taking subsidies, then sucking down 3 massive US Govt handouts and spending billions on European made aircraft.

  17. DTG,
    AA’s A321NEO shows 20 first/47 Main Cabin Extra and 129 Economy
    DL’s planned A321NEO is supposed to be 20 first/ 42 Comfort + and 132 economy

  18. I’ve had the privilege of touring the ATL Delta heavy repair operation and it’s impressive how they can keep their long term aircraft maintained and up to date. Having said that, it’s time to put the 757’s out to pasture for transcon and HI service. Hopefully the A321neo will facilitate that.

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