Delta has a history of not rushing into new aircraft and, consequently has been able to make fleet investments advantageously. For example, when the industry is buying Delta typically sits out the frenzy only to step in when the next downcycle emerges. Because Delta has a superb MRO facility in TechOps, it has been operating older aircraft effectively. As the pandemic starts to wane, Delta is making its move because so many airlines operating widebodies are on their knees and key international markets remain closed. If you’re financially strong this is the time to demonstrate the old adage “From the hands of the weak to the hands of the strong”.
If we look at the Airbus O&D data through May 2021 we see the following. The first page is of gross orders (not especially reliable because Airbus does not remove changes) and the second page is deliveries (more reliable). Remember to optimize viewing by clicking the double-headed arrow at the bottom right of the model.
Optimal sources for Delta. as it seeks A350s. includes lessors that have aircraft they cannot deploy in the current market. But because the market is coming on strong, lessor hands may not the weakest. Better opportunities may exist among specific airlines: LATAM (5 of which 3 are AerCap owned), Air Mauritius (2 AerCap owed) (they operate A330-900s that are probably better for their needs), and Hainan (9; 4 from Avolon, 2 from AerCap and 1 from JIC). These three sources offer Delta an opportunity to more than double their A350 fleet.
The lessors listed would be better off placing the aircraft with Delta. Of Delta’s 15 A350s it appears three are leased. The most recent A350 delivery (June 22, 2021) to Delta is N575DZ, formerly PR-XTK, an ex-LATAM aircraft and owned by AerCap. So the process has started already. And AerCap may be the quickest way Delta adds to its A350 fleet.