Delta Places Order for 100 Airbus A321neo Aircraft
Delta Air Lines announced Thursday an order for 100 Airbus A321neo aircraft, a deal valued at $12.7 billion. The addition of these aircraft, which will be delivered beginning in 2020 until 2023, will continue a recent trend of the Atlanta-based carrier ordering Airbus aircraft including the A350, A321 and A330. The carrier recently took delivery of its first A350s, which are taking their place as the flagship aircraft in Delta's fleet with the retirement of the 747.
In the announcement, Delta confirmed that it's agreed with Airbus for a 100 firm and 100 option A321neo order with Pratt & Whitney geared-turbofan engines. The carrier will configure the A321neo with a total of 197 seats — 20 in first class, 30 in Comfort+ and 147 in the main cabin. As compared to its existing A321 fleet, the A321neo will have an additional five seats. The aircraft will be equipped with in-flight entertainment, satellite-based 2Ku Wi-Fi and power ports.
Delta already operates several variants of the A320 family including the A319-100 and A320-200 it inherited from Northwest and the A321-200 it bought after the merger with NW. It currently has 30 of the latter, with another 92 on order. The order for the A321neo presents many opportunities for the airline — the aircraft is versatile and can perform a number of duties, including premium transcontinental routes, which is what American Airlines does with some of its A321s, configured in four classes with just 102 seats. A321s typically seat about twice that number.
Delta's large Airbus order comes amid an ongoing spat between the US and Canada over the Bombardier CS jet, which Delta has bought, too, with an order for 75. Boeing complained to the US Department of Commerce that the Canadian manufacturer was competing unfairly with its 737 by pricing the CS artificially low thanks to government subsidies. The US government sided with Boeing, slapping a 300% tariff on the price of the Canadian aircraft, but Delta was defiant and said that it wouldn't pay the premium for the aircraft. Following news of the tariff, Airbus announced that it would buy a 50.01% stake in the CSeries program and would produce a number of CSeries aircraft at its plant in Alabama, which would allow Delta to skirt the tariff.
While the fate of Delta's CSeries aircraft is uncertain, it seems that the airline is sending a message to Boeing by choosing the A321neo over Boeing's competing aircraft, the 737 MAX. Additionally, in a move linked to the trade dispute, the Canadian government announced on Tuesday that it was canceling an order for US-made F-18 Super Hornet military aircraft, choosing instead to buy used F-18s from Australia.