Delta Air Lines picks up two more Airbus A330neos as it eyes 767 phaseout

Oct 22, 2019

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Delta Air Lines is on a tear picking up incremental wide-body aircraft commitments, with a new deal to lease two Airbus A330neos from Air Lease.

The Atlanta-based carrier will take delivery of the A330-900s in late 2020 and early 2021, said ALC on Monday. The jets are from the lessor’s orderbook.

Delta’s commitment for two more A330neos follows a deal with new partner LATAM Airlines for four of its Airbus A350-900s plus 10 delivery slots. Together, the airline has commitments for 33 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s based on its fleet plan at the end of September.

Related:Delta bets on global growth with deal for LATAM Airbus A350s

The carrier operated four A330-900s and 13 A350s at the end of September, according to Airbus’ monthly orders and deliveries tally.

Delta debuted the A330neo on flights to Shanghai from its Seattle hub in July. The aircraft features the airline’s latest onboard products, including Delta One suites and the Premium Select premium economy cabin.

The A330-900 deal is Delta’s latest to meet its fleet replacement needs. Greg May, senior vice-president of fleet and technical procurement at Delta, said in a statement that the incremental commitments would meet “near-term wide-body aircraft needs… as older generation aircraft are retired and to support measured growth in 2021.”

The airline made a similar statement when it added 10 A330neos to its orderbook last November. At the time, Delta said the commitment met its “near-to-medium term widebody needs” and would allow it to replace aging Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

Related:Delta One on the Airbus A330-900

Delta had 56 767-300ERs with an average age of 23.3 years at the end of September, its fleet plan shows. The fleet is its third oldest, after its McDonnell Douglas MD-88s with an average age of 28.7 years and Airbus A320s with an age of 24.1 years.

While the carrier has not detailed a retirement schedule for the 767s, Delta could grow just by swapping a 767 for a new A330neo. Its A330-900s have at least 55 more seats than its 767-300ERs, depending on which configuration of the latter is retired.

Delta has a history of making adept fleet moves. When Southwest Airlines was considering unloading the Boeing 717-200s it acquired from AirTran Airways, Delta inked a deal to sub-lease the aircraft that proved an astute move. The deal added a “100-seat” jet — the 717s actually seat 110 passengers — to its mainline fleet and unlocked 70 more large regional jets in its feeder fleet.

Featured image by Darren Murph/TPG

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