Delta Air Lines has struck a deal with Airbus to purchase an additional 30 narrow-body A321neos to its existing orders, as it expands its fleet for the rebound in domestic travel.
The agreement is worth almost US$4 billion at list prices according to Bloomberg, but Delta may receive discounts as competition between Airbus and Boeing remains high in the recovery.
The Atlanta-based carrier plans to take delivery of half of the jets in early 2022, with the rest continuing through 2027, most coming from Airbus’s Alabama factory.
“Adding these aircraft strengthens Delta’s commitment to replacing older fleets with more sustainable, fuel-efficient jets, and offers the best customer experience in the industry,” said Mahendra Nair, senior vice president of Delta’s fleet and tech ops supply chain.
While the United State’s international market is still closed to numerous countries, domestic travel is slowly opening up, pushing a bounce back in American carriers striking large jet deals.
Delta is converting its purchase rights into firm orders, similar to its agreement in April where 25 A321neo purchase rights were converted into firm orders, with an additional 25 as options.
This deal will see its order backlog of A321neos grow to 155, obtaining an additional purchase right for 70 more.
“These purchase commitments look ahead to Delta’s future needs, supporting replacement of older, less fuel-efficient narrow-body aircraft,” said the company in its press release.
The narrow-body is powered by a Pratt & Whitney turbofan engine, which allegedly achieves 12 per cent higher fuel efficiency per seat.
As part of the airline’s recovery strategy, Delta plans to operate “reliable and lower-emissions” aircraft to “boost operational simplification, achieve economies of scale and drive productivity”.
All engines will be maintained by Delta TechOps technicians at its advanced maintenance and repair facility in Atlanta.
Delta operates the second largest fleet in the world, and almost owns an equal amount of Boeing and Airbus jets.
Since the Boeing 737 MAX was recertified in November following the two-year long groundings, the competition has risen between rival planemakers.
Delta purchased 29 used Boeing 737-900ER’s in July, and leased seven used Airbus A350-900s as a chance to upgrade its fleet for the rebound in travel while operating cheaper aircraft.
The airline operates 209 Boeing 737 jets according to Planespotters – higher than any of its other aircraft.
The neos will seat 194 passengers, and the new jets will be deployed across its domestic network, alongside its large A321neo fleet of 121 aircraft.
“Our partners at Delta are underscoring the strategic role the A321neo will play as the highly efficient platform for Delta’s renowned customer service and reliability for many years into the future,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer.