Delta has announced an order with Airbus for up to 40 A350-1000s to enhance its widebody fleet and complement the existing A350-900s from the same family.
On top of a firm purchase of 20 Airbus A350-1000s, the airline has options for a further 20 should it wish to activate these, bringing the total to 40 units.
A Long Awaited Deal
Talk of Delta committing to the Airbus A350-1000 emerged in 2022 when sources indicated the company was working closely with the European plane maker to facilitate a new purchase.
The additional capacity of the A350-1000 over the A350-900 and other available market options was considered ideal for the U.S.-based carrier. Overall fleet commonality was also highlighted as favourable for the airline when considering where it would put its business.
While a deal was said to be done some time ago, there would be a delay in the formal signing of the contract and announcement that would see it confirmed at the top end of the 2024 calendar year.
Deliveries for the A350-1000 are slated to commence from 2026 onwards and were published alongside its fourth quarter and full-year results for 2023, as noted by Reuters earlier this week.
As part of these results, the company said its full-year revenue stood at USD 58 million, while there were other substantial increases across the board.
When interest in a new widebody order was initially reported, a deal was also likely to include further Airbus A330neos, an aircraft type the carrier has quickly acquired over recent years. However, this formal announcement would be missing a deal for further A330-900s.
New aircraft types will continuously offer customers enhanced possibilities. The capabilities of the A350-1000 present new route opportunities for the U.S. airline and ease pressure on existing aircraft types in service.
Delta has been eyeing service commencement to Melbourne, Australia, for some time, but onlookers have viewed such a route as impossible with their current fleet offering. A deal for the A350-1000 changes the perspective and opens up the chance of launching these flights in 2026.
Additionally, further options for the airline become available, whether to ports in Asia or the Middle East with a higher capacity and extended capabilities over the A350-900.
A Move To Airbus
Delta has slowly been moving away from Boeing-produced planes as it enters a new era for its fleet, and a new deal for the A350-1000 highlights this change in direction.
The U.S.-based carrier previously relied on several Boeing aircraft types, such as the 737, 757, 767, and 777, among others, to drive its day-to-day operations. While several fleet types from Boeing are still active, they are all intended to be phased out in the future.
A commitment to the 737 MAX stands out as one of the only purchases for the American plane maker from Delta as it views Airbus-produced aircraft as more ideally suited.
As it stands, Delta operates more than 450 Airbus aircraft. This commitment ranges from the smallest A220 to the A350 series, with most aircraft families represented.
When exploring the backlog of orders that remain undelivered, over 200 are for Airbus-produced aircraft as the company continues with a streamlining process initiated during the global pandemic.
Comments From CEO
We are thankful for Delta’s continued confidence in Airbus’ solutions to meet its fleet needs. Delta was the first U.S. airline to operate the A350-900, and is doing so with great success. Delta now welcomes the A350-1000, which will open even more opportunities for the airline and its customers. We are proud that our aircraft serve the entirety of Delta’s impressive global network as this stellar airline takes fleet efficiency to the next level.Christian Scherer, Chief Executive Officer of the Commercial Aircraft business, Airbus.
The A350-1000 will be the largest, most capable aircraft in Delta’s fleet and is an important step forward for our international expansion. The aircraft complements our fleet and offers an elevated customer experience, with more premium seats and best-in-class amenities, as well as expanded cargo capabilities.Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer.