Delta is promising “world-class amenities” and more premium seating onboard a jet that it hopes will reaffirm its position as a leading legacy carrier.
Delta frequent flyers take note – there’s a brand-new flagship coming your way. The Atlanta-based carrier has confirmed that the Airbus A350-1000 is joining its long-haul flying roster. While specific details are still to be announced, expect this new jet to instantly become Delta’s biggest and best aircraft.
The airline already operates the smaller A350-900, and was the U.S. launch customer for the type. This latest order for its bigger brother suggests the carrier is pleased with what it has seen.
Ed Bastian, the Delta CEO said the A350-1000 will be the “most capable aircraft” in the fleet and hinted that it would enable further international expansion for the carrier. While no specific details were immediately available about the layout and cabins aboard the new jet, Bastian teased that it will offer “an elevated customer experience” with more premium seating and “best-in-class amenities.”
Travelers can expect around 15% more premium seats on the new plane compared to the aircraft it is replacing. For more upscale options, Delta One Suites, Delta Premium Select and Delta Comfort+ will all be available, in addition to the Main Cabin.
Delta Eyes All-Airbus Widebody Fleet
The Delta deal is for 20 A350-1000s, plus future options for an additional 20 planes. As the largest commercial jet offered by Airbus, this latest order definitely tilts the balance in favor of the European firm. Delta now has confirmed orders for 36 A350s and expects to have more than 60 of the type in its fleet by the end of the decade.
Looking more broadly, Delta currently operates more than 450 planes from Airbus, covering everything from short-haul jets right up to large transcontinental widebodies. While Delta remains a strong Boeing customer for single-aisle planes, including a major order for the 737 Max in 2022, the outlook for bigger jets is rather different.
For its longer flights, Delta flies a mix of Boeing 757 and 767s, along with Airbus A330s and A350-900s. With most of these Boeing jets reaching retirement age, the prospect of an all-Airbus long-haul fleet in the near future is certainly possible, and made all the more likely with today’s news. Even before this latest order, Delta had almost 200 additional Airbus planes on order.
Who Else Flies the A350-1000?
While this aircraft is going to be an exciting new addition for Delta, the model has been in service with other global carriers for several years. Qatar Airways was the first to fly the A350-1000 in 2018, with other big names such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways and Delta’s SkyTeam partner Virgin Atlantic all joining the -1000 club in the years since.
Latest Airbus data shows that the plane, including the smaller -900 variant, has more than 1,206 orders from 58 operators. The Delta news comes just days after EVA Air of Taiwan placed a major order for the A350 and A321neo.
Delta Air Lines is due to publish its fourth quarter and full-year 2023 earnings later on Friday. Skift and Airline Weekly teams will be covering the call and have full coverage.
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Photo credit: Airbus Airbus / Airbus