Report: Delta Planning Big Airbus A330 & A350 Order

Report: Delta Planning Big Airbus A330 & A350 Order

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For quite some time now, there have been rumors of Delta Air Lines placing a wide body aircraft order, including finally picking up Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. While we’ll see if it materializes this time around, there are some pretty reliable rumors that an aircraft order could be announced on Friday, during the carrier’s Q4 earnings call.

Delta plans Airbus wide body aircraft order

Reuters is reporting that Delta and Airbus are finalizing negotiations for a new wide body aircraft order, which could include both A330neo and A350 aircraft. It’s also believed that Delta will order Airbus A350-1000s, which is the largest variant of the jet, and would be the carrier’s new flagship aircraft. It’s not yet known what the exact breakdown would be between planes, but the order is expected to be for dozens of jets.

Delta has historically acquired aircraft opportunistically, and the airline has often opted to purchase used planes, or wait until it could get a great deal on new planes. However, with the recovery that we’ve seen in demand, airlines are placing orders even if they can’t get amazing deals, in order to secure delivery slots.

Delta is expected to order more Airbus A350s

How this would fit into Delta’s current long haul fleet

For context, Delta’s flagship aircraft is currently the Airbus A350-900. The airline has 28 of these in its fleet, with another 16 on order, including the secondhand A350s that Delta has acquired from partner LATAM.

Delta’s other primary new long haul jet is the Airbus A330-900neo, as Delta has 27 of these in its fleet, with a further 12 on order. During the pandemic, Delta retired its fleet of Boeing 777-200s, which was the carrier’s longest range aircraft.

Beyond the A330-900neo and A350-900, Delta’s long haul fleet also consists of older generation A330s and 767s. The airline has 66 Boeing 767s, including 45 767-300ERs and 21 767-400ERs. These simply don’t offer a great premium cabin passenger experience, especially in business class. Furthermore, Delta has 42 older generation A330s, including 11 A330-200s and 31 A330-300s.

This is purely speculation on my part, but here’s how I see this playing out:

  • I think Delta will place a substantial Airbus A330-900neo order, as these jets will be used to replace most existing Boeing 767s and older generation Airbus A330s; I don’t see the airline ordering the A330-800neo, since the economics of the jet don’t make sense for Delta
  • I think Delta will expand its Airbus A350-900 fleet, as this will continue to be the backbone of the carrier’s long haul fleet
  • I also think we’ll see Delta finally order some A350-1000s; this plane has amazing range and economics, and could be used in many of Delta’s most important high demand markets
Delta needs to eventually replace its Boeing 767s

Bottom line

Delta is expected to place a wide body aircraft order with Airbus in the very near future. It’s expected that Delta will order multiple wide body jets, including the Airbus A350-1000.

While Delta tries to be opportunistic with acquiring planes, delivery slots for A350s are hard to come by, so there might not be all that much of an opportunity. With Delta’s aging long haul fleet of 767s and older generation A330s, an order makes sense.

What are you expecting from Delta’s prospective Airbus order?

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  1. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The A350-1000 order is now confirmed and it gives Delta the right to service the Trent XWB 97 engines that power the aircraft.

    A new era of longhaul international travel for Delta begins as Delta gains the most efficient and capable aircraft in the US airline fleet.
    Deliveries begin in 2026.

  2. John Volk Guest

    Delta got a fanatic deal on those 737-900 that were only 9-12 years old that were leased to Lion Air. Got the fleet younger and Delta already had over 125 of them they bought new.

    I will always believe Delta should not have canceled the 787 order they got with the Northwest merger but they did and for now they seem to be going all in with Airbus on wide body jets.

  3. brianna hoffner Gold

    i feel like the 2-4-2 thing is such an undersold perk of the A330. if you're traveling as a pair on an A330 (or 767), i'm fine with Economy+ on most sub-9 hour routes. it's having that random 3rd person wedged in there that makes it awkward and uncomfortable. Like, do you do the dirty "book aisle and window and hope for an empty middle" thing? or do you do that in regular Economy so...

    i feel like the 2-4-2 thing is such an undersold perk of the A330. if you're traveling as a pair on an A330 (or 767), i'm fine with Economy+ on most sub-9 hour routes. it's having that random 3rd person wedged in there that makes it awkward and uncomfortable. Like, do you do the dirty "book aisle and window and hope for an empty middle" thing? or do you do that in regular Economy so no one gets CPU'd into your empty middle seat? Ohhhh but now the Basic Economy crowd with no seat assignments are being plonked down in between you... Ugh. And domestic First is so lame these days that i feel like 75% of why i pay for it is to only be two-abreast.

  4. Etravelstheworld Guest

    I for one, prefer airbus over Boeing. The only Boeing plane that I actually enjoy to fly is the 787 and albeit not as much as an A350 or A380.

    Sadly Boeing represents the slow decline of our American might. Not only are the safety issues glaringly obvious but on a competition standpoint, they are losing bids from Delta a primarily US airline show how bad they have gotten. This is the equivalent of Air...

    I for one, prefer airbus over Boeing. The only Boeing plane that I actually enjoy to fly is the 787 and albeit not as much as an A350 or A380.

    Sadly Boeing represents the slow decline of our American might. Not only are the safety issues glaringly obvious but on a competition standpoint, they are losing bids from Delta a primarily US airline show how bad they have gotten. This is the equivalent of Air France only flying Boeing jets in the country that makes airbus frames. That would never happen….

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      "This is the equivalent of Air France only flying Boeing jets"

      How, when neither is exclusive to either manufacturer?

    2. Matt Guest

      Out of curiosity, what makes the 787 an exception to that? Premium cabins are dependent on the airline, and any widebody can have a good experience if the airline chooses so. The 3-3-3 configuration that all airlines now use on 787s is definitely not pleasant as far as I'm concerned, especially compared to a 2-4-2 A330 or a 3-3-3 A350 that's significantly wider.

    3. Mike Watson Guest

      I agree. Wages go up, quality goes down. You can thank unions for that.

    4. Max Guest

      Airbus famously manufactures their aircraft under a fascist dictatorship where unions are all eliminated and wages haven't risen in 10 years? What a stupid comment...

  5. Tim Dunn Diamond

    As Ben has noted, the A350-1000 - which will be the primary if not totality of this order - is the most capable and most fuel efficient long range aircraft available and it appears the order will finally happen, 16 months after Delta execs told employees they were asking for board approval to purchase 20 aircraft.
    While terms aren’t clear yet, it is certain that Delta got direct concessions or alternative terms on some...

    As Ben has noted, the A350-1000 - which will be the primary if not totality of this order - is the most capable and most fuel efficient long range aircraft available and it appears the order will finally happen, 16 months after Delta execs told employees they were asking for board approval to purchase 20 aircraft.
    While terms aren’t clear yet, it is certain that Delta got direct concessions or alternative terms on some of the things it sought including reduced maintenance costs on the big Rolls Royce Trents that power the -1000.
    With the latest A350-900s that Delta will receive this year, the A350-1000s open new era of Delta ultra-longhaul flights and global expansion.
    This order is even more significant for Airbus than it is for Delta since it ensures that Delta will be the largest operator of Airbus widebodies for the remainder of this decade at least. Delta is already the largest operator of Airbus aircraft, displacing American last year; Delta is the only airline that has active orders for all four Airbus passenger aircraft families.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      just to add, there will be no A321XLRs. Delta has long said that it is not interested in augmented crew narrowbody operations - the labor costs on flights over 8 hours with less than 170 passengers (Delta's A321NEOs in their premium transcon configuration don't even 170 seats) just don't work.
      And Delta might order a few 339s but they don't have to right now. With just a few more 339s if any they have...

      just to add, there will be no A321XLRs. Delta has long said that it is not interested in augmented crew narrowbody operations - the labor costs on flights over 8 hours with less than 170 passengers (Delta's A321NEOs in their premium transcon configuration don't even 170 seats) just don't work.
      And Delta might order a few 339s but they don't have to right now. With just a few more 339s if any they have enough medium sized aircraft to replace the 767s that need to be replaced in the next 4 years. There will likely be another round of orders that focus on getting rid of the 763s and starting the 764 retirements.
      Delta could also be a strong candidate to buy Asiana's fleet of A350s if the merger with Korean gets approved; if that happens, there is less need for 339s. Airbus has virtually no backlog for 339s so they can build whatever Delta needs on short notice while the A350 order book just keeps growing.

    2. FlyerDon Guest

      Tim, it’s against the law to reply to your own comments.

    3. OCTinPHL Diamond

      Just as it is “certain” that Delta gets concessions (we will see); it is certainly likely that the combined numbers of 339s and 359s will exceed the number of 35Ks.

    4. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you were wrong.
      All A350-1000s

  6. Johhny Guest

    You can always count on Delta to suck up government subsidies, beg the government for help in fending off competitors and then buying Airbus jets. Opportunistic scum.

    Though I am saving up 900K SkyMiles to take a one way A350 to Paris.

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      Dumb. That's like the people who are still calling Toyota's "imports!" in 2024, when they've long made more sedans stateside than the "domestic" producers.

  7. InceptionCat Gold

    I think we might see the A321XLR ordered too.
    Problem with the A321XLR will be the delivery slots that probably won't be available anytime soon.
    Though there's the possibility that Airbus offers DL the A330-800neo at a very attractive price and they take a few of these for some thin long routes to Europe where the B767 has been operating.

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      Delta's CEO has repeatedly said that they aren't interested in transatlantic narrowbodies. Their (domestic configured) 757s to Iceland is likely the most that we'll see of that, unless there's a leadership change.

  8. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    From what I've heard, this has gone back-and-forth internally for about the last 18mo; so let's hope they've finally concluded their decision and plan to make it public.

    A lot of employees were convinced that they'd make an announcement following the Paris Air Show (DL almost never announces at the shows anymore), but it's been delayed for everything from changes to the ratio of models....

    ....to Boeing having for the second time, sent a...

    From what I've heard, this has gone back-and-forth internally for about the last 18mo; so let's hope they've finally concluded their decision and plan to make it public.

    A lot of employees were convinced that they'd make an announcement following the Paris Air Show (DL almost never announces at the shows anymore), but it's been delayed for everything from changes to the ratio of models....

    ....to Boeing having for the second time, sent a team to Delta with instructions to essentially "not come back without a 787 order." (first time was December 2018)

    So, we'll see. I for one can't wait to see a US-based A350-1000.

    Will likely become the ICN/AMS/CDG shuttles of the fleet, but wouldn't be surprised to see them to S.Africa, as well as relaunching the Indian nonstops.

  9. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Where is Timmy at? Been 3 hours and no commentary yet? Odd.

    On this report: Delta should have placed this order years ago. Also, they need to get their Dreamliner order together, and fast.

  10. Ray Guest

    Silly question but I wonder if Delta could get some of them to be assembled in the Mobile AL plant for faster delivery times?

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      No. The Mobile operation only produces narrowbodies.

  11. Clive Soper Guest

    One hundred and fifty five aircraft order, twenty A350-1000 , twenty five A350-900, and one hundred and ten A330-900 total order 155.

    Let’s see, but this seems a fair guestimate

  12. Morris Kyalo Guest

    Maybe the 787 order is coming back to replace the 767s. Delta wants most of the new A339s to be delivered in 2030s when General Electric Engines will be available for the A330 neo program.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      There is no "the 787 order" at this point, and neither GE, Airbus, nor any carrier has made mention of any intent whatsoever for (paying for) GE to the added to the A330NEO.

  13. sunviking82 Guest

    I hope TA travel doesn't tank, DL investment is really big wide bodies and not mid-size or long range narrow bodies for long-thin or off season routes looks like an economic issue. DL Hubs other then NYC, ATL and LAX don't really fit these models.

    I think they should have kept or added 787-8 and -9 verses these huge capcity planes.

  14. Uncle Leo Guest

    Will be a day of celebration when the 767-300 dies with Delta. I fly D1 2x/year to Greece/Italy. The 767 is the equipment that typically flies into Venice. I will avoid that at all costs and even fly elsewhere and take the train to Venice.

    A350....sign me up. Nice to have the extra bathrooms in D1.

    1. Jay Deshpande Guest

      Clearly you don’t have much experience with the 767, which is way more spacious than a number of other aircraft.

    2. Mike Guest

      The business class on the 767 is a disgrace. I flew first from Geneva to NY on premium economy which was fine, then the return in business which was really bad. Seats uncomfortable and so tight. Better not be claustrophobic in such coffin type seats configuration.

    3. Senator Guest

      I would second that Mike. The B767-300ERs on the ARN-JFK-ARN route is poor in Delta One even compared to the much old United B757-200ERs on the ARN-EWR-ARN route.

      After trying the B767-300ER once in each direction, I decided I will never take this direct route again rather opting for AF/KL connections in CDG or AMS instead.

  15. Jim Guest

    The 339 is much bigger (viz capacity) than the 763 - whereas the 338 is an almost perfect capacity match. Given that DL is now operating three 359 subfleets (275/306/339 pax), there's a logic to taking some 338s as 763 replacements.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Except that the A338 and A339 have nearly identical operating costs, with the latter offering additional seats (read that: "potential for lower pax-seat cost") and retaining a higher potential resale value...

      ...which is the reason essentially no one has bought the former, save for 3 government airlines (one of which is quite vocal about not even wanting it) and one undisclosed buyer.

  16. Kaleb_With_A_K Gold

    I love the Delta A330s.

    Nothing beats the 2-4-layout and I will go out of my way to fly on those planes with my spouse.

    1. jcil Guest

      Agree. Flying a Hawaiian A330 from Auckland to Honolulu next month--even decided to buy 2 economy tickets due to super low price and the 2x4x2 seating. Prefer ANZ on this route, but the 787 they fly can't compare for economy passengers with the 3x3x3 seating.

    2. Aviation_Fan Member

      Say it with me....

      SEATING. LAYOUTS. ARE. DECIDED. BY. THE. AIRLINE.

    3. Matt Guest

      That's not completely true. An airline can't decide on a 3-3-3 A330. A 2-4-2 A330 will always be more comfortable than a 3-3-3 787 configured otherwise equally by the same airline.

  17. W Gold

    I think Delta might also order some A321LR/XLRs. It would be interesting to see the new markets we might see Delta expand into with that aircraft, especially new transatlantic routes from JFK/BOS.

  18. digital_notmad Diamond

    it will be the most premium order ever placed, believe me

  19. Thomas Christoffersen Guest

    The A330neo is a pretty low key aircraft for Airbus. But i suspect it will generate a lot of money for Airbus in the coming years, as the A330 fleets around the World, ages and come up for replacement

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      The overwhelming majority of large A330 operators have already decided on a fleet replacement, with most of them choosing+ordering the 787 and A350, instead of the A330NEO.

      Cathay is about the only undecided large A330 operator left. :(

    2. jacobin777 New Member

      With absolutely NO idea of what they are planning to buy, I'm going with CX purchasing the B78X for its A333 fleet renewal.

      Again, this as "accurate" as knowing what the next card is going to be in blackjack...LOL.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Trying to recall: other than Virgin, is there any other airline that's gotten both the 787 and A330NEO? Don't believe so, but sorta drawing a blank.

  20. Sharon Guest

    Delta knew all along that it needed to replace its 767's. Why did they not place this order in 2021?

    While it is a given that Delta must order more a 330-900's to replace most of their 767, it will be exciting to see if Delta orders the a321 XLR.

    If Delta does not, this means they will have their smallest narrow body at 281 seats (besides for their few a 330-200) once they retire the 767.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Why did they not place this order in 2021?

      Because when you just came out of the worst crisis in history, with thousands of laid-off staff and future market uncertainty as far as foreseeable... the last thing in the universe you'd ever want to do, is engage in multi-billion capital expenditure, for something you can delay up to a decade or more if you so chose.

      it will be exciting to see if Delta...

      Why did they not place this order in 2021?

      Because when you just came out of the worst crisis in history, with thousands of laid-off staff and future market uncertainty as far as foreseeable... the last thing in the universe you'd ever want to do, is engage in multi-billion capital expenditure, for something you can delay up to a decade or more if you so chose.

      it will be exciting to see if Delta orders the a321 XLR

      Be very surprising if it happened any time soon, as Ed is repeatedly on record saying that the economics of longhaul narrowbodies "don't make sense for [Delta]" at this time; further evidenced by them pulling nearly all of their longhaul 757 flights. :(

  21. Anthony Diamond

    Honestly, these orders should have been made a few years ago, but understandably Delta has been cautious about orders and demand recovery given Covid and changes around travel.

    I will kind of miss the old 767s on the transcon routes. They are charming in a way (except for the tiny tv and no live tv).

  22. Lee Guest

    Delta One transcon is supposed to transition from B767s to A330s. Makes sense.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      They have some A339s on the TCON for repositioning, and an A332 for otherwise downtime, but there's no announced plan to "transition from 767s to A330s."

      You'd likely see the 764ERs permanently placed on the TCONS before you would A330s (as we saw during the worst of Covid), but as of now, there's no such plans for either.

  23. MildMidwesterner Diamond

    "Delta has historically acquired aircraft opportunistically, and the airline has often opted to purchase used planes"

    Perhaps Delta will be picking up some lightly used 737Max jets soon...

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      DL buying used aircraft is soooo much more exaggerated in the aviation community, than what it is in ACTUAL practice.

      They got super-low CapEx in scooping up oddball narrowbodies (717s and MD90s) back 12 and 13 respective years ago, plus the recent A350s that LATAM was discharging.

      Prior to that, it'd been a quarter-century since the last time DL had bought a used widebody.

      They've bought less used narrowbodies over the last decade than WN...

      DL buying used aircraft is soooo much more exaggerated in the aviation community, than what it is in ACTUAL practice.

      They got super-low CapEx in scooping up oddball narrowbodies (717s and MD90s) back 12 and 13 respective years ago, plus the recent A350s that LATAM was discharging.

      Prior to that, it'd been a quarter-century since the last time DL had bought a used widebody.

      They've bought less used narrowbodies over the last decade than WN and UA. Yet you have AvGeeks who instantly believe if something used is on the market, Delta's going to be the buyer! it's really odd how that reputation came about.

    2. MaxPower Diamond

      And the used Lion Air 737s.

      Though your “the past decade” timeline was an amusingly cute way of excluding how delta has taken more used Southwest aircraft than used aircraft Southwest has purchased in the last 15 years.

      But if you look at the statement replied to… it was a separation of statements. Delta does buy used aircraft but they’re also very opportunistic:
      the end of the a321ceo line when the Neo was for...

      And the used Lion Air 737s.

      Though your “the past decade” timeline was an amusingly cute way of excluding how delta has taken more used Southwest aircraft than used aircraft Southwest has purchased in the last 15 years.

      But if you look at the statement replied to… it was a separation of statements. Delta does buy used aircraft but they’re also very opportunistic:
      the end of the a321ceo line when the Neo was for sale.
      saving the a221 program
      Buying the 330neo when no other US3 or most other major international fleet team saw value in it (not sure most consider ITA and TAP as a bellwether for the industry ;) )
      It’s no exaggeration that delta is very opportunistic and also opportunistically purchases used aircraft. Buying used 737s from lion air soon after the MAX was no longer grounded has to be the most opportunistic thing any US carrier has done even if they weren’t MAXes.

      There’s a great reason delta has that reputation. It’s well earned and they don’t seem ashamed of it.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      amusingly cute way of excluding how delta has taken more used Southwest aircraft than used aircraft Southwest has purchased in the last 15 years.

      Not sure what you're so "amused" by, when if you go back just a bit farther, WN again would again take the "lead." There was nothing calculating about it, just used an even time frame.

    4. MaxPower Diamond

      Yeah… not really. 88 is a big number to beat. Delta likes used planes more than others. That’s ok to admit :)

    5. Paper Boarding Pass Guest

      Let's not forget DL bought a batch of used B757 from a China airline (name escapes me) to complement its fleet.
      And as noted in this string, it also picked up some A350's from a South American airline.
      So yes, DL does have history in the used airframe market.
      This is made possible via its TechOps shop which has a license to rebuild most any engine that hangs from the wings of its fleet.
      That's what leverage is all about!!

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MaxPower Diamond

And the used Lion Air 737s. Though your “the past decade” timeline was an amusingly cute way of excluding how delta has taken more used Southwest aircraft than used aircraft Southwest has purchased in the last 15 years. But if you look at the statement replied to… it was a separation of statements. Delta does buy used aircraft but they’re also very opportunistic: the end of the a321ceo line when the Neo was for sale. saving the a221 program Buying the 330neo when no other US3 or most other major international fleet team saw value in it (not sure most consider ITA and TAP as a bellwether for the industry ;) ) It’s no exaggeration that delta is very opportunistic and also opportunistically purchases used aircraft. Buying used 737s from lion air soon after the MAX was no longer grounded has to be the most opportunistic thing any US carrier has done even if they weren’t MAXes. There’s a great reason delta has that reputation. It’s well earned and they don’t seem ashamed of it.

4
ConcordeBoy Diamond

There is no "the 787 order" at this point, and neither GE, Airbus, nor any carrier has made mention of any intent whatsoever for (paying for) GE to the added to the A330NEO.

4
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

Where is Timmy at? Been 3 hours and no commentary yet? Odd. On this report: Delta should have placed this order years ago. Also, they need to get their Dreamliner order together, and fast.

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