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May 26, 2024
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Airbus sent this PR:

Delta Air Lines has ordered 30 additional Airbus A321neo aircraft to help meet the airline’s future fleet requirements. The newly-ordered aircraft are in addition to the airline’s existing orders for 125 of the type, bringing the outstanding orders from Delta to a total of 155 A321neos.

“Adding these aircraft strengthens Delta’s commitment to replacing older fleets with more sustainable, efficient jets, and offering the best customer experience in the industry,” said Mahendra Nair, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Fleet and TechOps Supply Chain. “Delta appreciates the extensive partnership with the Airbus team in support of our strategic growth plans, and we look forward to continuing to work together throughout the recovery and beyond.”

“As the industry looks to emerge from the pandemic, Delta is showing responsible leadership and casting a strong vote of confidence now in the A321neo,” noted Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International. “With orders for 30 more of an aircraft that is in very high demand around the globe, our partners at Delta are underscoring the strategic role they see for the A321neo with its outstanding environmental performance for the airline’s renowned customer service and reliability for years into the future.”

Delta’s A321neos will be powered by next-generation Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofan engines that bring significant efficiency gains over Delta’s current, already-efficient A321 aircraft. Equipped with total seating for 194 customers with 20 in First Class, 42 in Delta Comfort+ and 132 in the Main Cabin, Delta’s A321neos will be deployed primarily across the airline’s extensive domestic network, complementing Delta’s current A321 fleet of more than 120 aircraft. The airline is slated to receive the first of its 155 A321neo aircraft early next year.

Many of Delta’s A321neos will be delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. The airline has taken delivery of 87 U.S.-manufactured Airbus aircraft since 2016.

Our take:

  • This isn’t a big order yet is more significant than it appears. The decision shows Delta building its middle-of-market (MoM) fleet and the focus is on the A321. Keep in mind that Delta already ordered 25 A321neo’s in April and backfilled its options with another 25.
  • This suggests that the MoM is growing in importance – even Boeing loyalist United has ordered the A321.  The gap Boeing left in the market is being closed by Airbus. As US airlines upsize Airbus is winning and, since this is not a zero-sum game, Boeing is losing.
  • The Delta move means American and United will also adjust their fleets – game theory makes that necessary. Any advantage must be minimized.  Do you think Delta’s selection makes the MAX 10 more attractive? 
  • Airbus moves further down the long-term cost curve; economies of scale are like physics. What does Boeing have to do to its MAX pricing to compete? What is the cost to Boeing?
  • Another winner here is Pratt & Whitney.  Who doesn’t want Delta as a customer? Note that Delta is not doing an IndiGo move on engines. 
  • As we emerge from the pandemic, smaller aircraft with long-range like the A321neo is becoming the tool of choice.  Witness JetBlue’s new London service. Delta has ensured it will stay near the front of the delivery line of the aircraft airlines want.
  • This isn’t just another 30 A321neo we are talking about here.
author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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