Delta Air Lines announced an order for 100 Airbus A321neo jets that the carrier says will help it refresh its fleet. The order also is a setback for Boeing, after reports that Delta also had been considering the U.S. jetmakers 737 Max 10 model.
Delta announced the Airbus deal Thursday, placing a firm order for 100 A321neos with an option for 100 more. Delta says the new planes, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, will begin arriving to the airline in 2020 with deliveries continuing through 2023. The deal would be worth up to $12.7 billion at list prices, though carriers typically receive significant discounts in negotiating such orders.
“This is the right transaction at the right time for our customers, our employees and our shareholders,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “Delta, Airbus and Pratt & Whitney share the same commitment to safety, efficiency, innovation and continuously improving the customer experience.”
Delta will configure its A321neos with 197 seats. The layout will include 20 first-class seats and 30 extra-legroom coach seats, which the airline brands as “Delta Comfort+.” The remaining 147 seats will be standard coach seats.
Passengers flying on the new jets will have access to on-demand in-flight entertainment and satellite-based 2Ku in-flight Wi-Fi. Power ports will be available at every seat and Delta says the cabins on the A321neos will feature “expansive, 25% -larger bookshelf-style overhead bins and full spectrum LED cabin lighting.”
For Airbus, the order from a U.S. airline is a victory in its ongoing market share battle with Boeing. Reports earlier this week -- including from CNN and Bloomberg -- said Delta also had been considering Boeings 737 Max 10 jets for the order. Instead, the order went to Airbus.
“This purchase furthers our commitment to U.S. aviation – a commitment that has never been stronger,” John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer for its commercial aircraft division, said in a statement. “Today, there is more U.S. content in Airbus aircraft than from any other country, with more than 40% of our aircraft-related procurement coming from the United States.”
Leahy added that “many" of the A321neos ordered by Delta will be assembled at Airbus factory in Mobile, Ala.
The Airbus-Delta deal also comes amid what are thought to be frayed relations between Delta and Boeing.
Delta has been caught up in a trade spat that began when Boeing lodged a formal trade complaint with the U.S. Commerce Department in April. In that complaint, Boeing alleged Canadian jetmaker Bombardier received unfair state subsidies and then sold its new C Series model below cost in the U.S.
The U.S. Commerce Department eventually responded to the complaint by announcing preliminary duties of 80% and 220% on the C Series planes, a move that would negatively affect Deltas order.
Since then, Deltas CEO has defiantly said his carrier would not pay any tariffs on the jet and has added that he doesnt believe Boeing has a legitimate complaint.
The Quebec-based jetmakers new C Series jet had been struggling until Delta Air Lines inked a firm order in 2016 for 75 of the aircraft. The deal pumped new life into the C Series line, which faced weak sales and a bleak future before Deltas order.
Still, Bombardier may get in the last barb in its battle against Boeing. Shortly after the U.S. Commerce Department announced its preliminary duties, Bombardier shocked the industry by announcing that it had sold a controlling C Series stake to Airbus. As part of the deal, Airbus would assemble C Series jets sold to U.S. airlines at its North American factory in Alabama.
Airbus also would provide procurement, sales and marketing support for the planes, which will seat 100 to 150 passengers, in exchange for 50.01% of the program.
For its part, Boeing said 2017 had been a strong year for the jetmaker, no matter Deltas latest order.
"We are pleased with the significant amount of order wins at Boeing this year," the company said in a statement to USA TODAYs Today in the Sky blog. "And we competed with a strong but disciplined offer in the Delta campaign. While Delta has chosen to go with Airbus and Bombardier in recent single aisle campaigns, we are proud of the 737 MAX familys superior value and performance."
Boeing also seemed happy to downplay any perceived hard feelings that might exist between it and Delta.
"Delta remains a valued customer, and we will continue exploring ways to best meet their needs in the future," Boeing added in its statement. "Globally, we have 367 orders and commitments from 16 customers for the 737 MAX 10 -- an airplane that delivers unmatched operating economics and fuel efficiency. We will keep making that case with our customers here and around the world." News source USAToday