Delta Air Lines has confirmed a deal that will see it operate Airbus long-haul jets for the first time.
The US carrier has agreed to purchase 25 A350-900s and 25 new A330-900neo aircraft, to replace its older Boeing 747 and 767 aircraft. Deliveries are expected to start from 2017 for the A350s and 2019 for the A330neos.
The total value of the deal is US$14.3 billion at current list prices.
“Delta always approaches fleet decisions with a balance of economic efficiency, customer experience enhancements, network integration and total cost of ownership,” said Nat Pieper, Delta’s vice president of fleet strategy & transactions.
“The A350 and A330neo support our long-haul, transoceanic strategy and join a mix of Boeing and Airbus aircraft that provide exceptional flexibility for Delta’s global network as well as strong cash-on-cash returns for our shareholders.”
US carriers have traditionally favoured Boeing aircraft, but Airbus has made strong inroads into the world’s largest aviation market in recent years. In 2013, the European planemaker signed a deal with Delta for 45 single-aisle A321 aircraft, but this latest order marks the airline’s first twin-aisle Airbus purchase.
The new A350s and A330neos will operate alongside the airline’s existing twin-aisle fleet of B777s, with 18 new B787 Dreamliners also due to be delivered by the end of the decade.
Replacing Delta’s B747-400s, the new A350-900s will be delivered from the second quarter of 2017. The A330-900neos meanwhile, are scheduled to enter the Delta fleet in 2019, replacing the older B767-300ERs.