Airbus announced that Delta has placed a firm order for 10 A330-300s and 30 A321ceos. The airline selected CFM for the A321s and CF6s for the A330s. Deliveries of the A330s start in 2015 and A321 deliveries are scheduled for 2016. While it is common now for mega airlines to support both big OEMs, Delta’s decision is interesting. The airline has proven reluctant to buy new airplanes. Its CEO, Richard Anderson, has been reluctant to spend on a new fleet.
In a way, this order reflects the airline’s earlier deliberate selection. Rather than go for 737 MAX, Delta chose 737NGs for its 2011 order. Today we see again an avoidance of the newer neo with ceos being selected. The A321s will have sharklets though, and perhaps these aircraft could be part of replacement for the airline’s 757s? Many of these A321s will be built in Alabama, which fits well with what Airbus wants.
Delta selected the 242-metric-ton version of the A330-300with this order. This aircraft has up to 500 nautical miles of extra range, with the ability to carry nearly five metric tons more payload than the previous 235-metric-ton A330-300. An interesting aspect of the order is engine selection for the A330s. The current A330s, which were ordered by Northwest, all have P&W engines, while the new aircraft will be delivered with the latest version CF-6-80E1 engines from GE.
This order was based on price and only having one model available sooner rather than later. 321CEO’s are much lower in price and this fits Delta’s business model which seems to be working quite well for them. The 717 deal gives Delta a good proven frame with the latest upgrades on the DC-9 model but with much better fuel economy and low payments. If Delta was to wait for the 787-9, it would have to wait many years past what the A330 could be delivered by Airbus, basically, it was the only type available in a short time frame and also much cheaper to purchase.