Delta Returns to Airbus for Its First Airbus Buy in 20 Years

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL  ) is expanding its air fleet. On Wednesday, Delta announced plans to buy 40 new Airbus aircraft for delivery between 2015 and 2017. The planes in question will include 10 wide-body A330-300 airplanes and 30 narrow-body A321 jets.

At Airbus' published list prices (which customers don't usually pay), this order would be valued at approximately $5.6 billion.

Airbus-built, Delta-operated plane. Source: Airbus.

Few airlines actually pay list prices, especially on large orders like this one. Delta CEO Richard Anderson was quoted in the company press release as calling the purchase "another opportunistic fleet transaction for Delta."

Delta CFO Paul Jacobson noted in the same press release that "these Airbus aircraft will generate free cash flow and improve our return on invested capital from the time they enter service."

In its announcement of the deal, Airbus pointed out that this was Delta's first purchase from it since Delta placed its last Airbus order "some two decades ago." Airbus noted that in combination with the fleet of Airbuses inherited from its purchase of Northwest airlines, Delta now operates 126 Airbus A320 Family aircraft and 32 A330s -- numbers that will grow with this latest order.

Airbus further pointed out that "many of Delta's A321s are expected to be assembled at the brand-new Airbus assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, currently under construction and scheduled to deliver its first aircraft in 2016."

Delta is buying a version of the A321 that is being phased out in favor of a "new engine option" that Airbus plans to begin delivering in 2015. The new version is more fuel-efficient and has been getting the bulk of new orders. But the old version that Delta is buying costs $10 million less per plane.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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  • Report this Comment On September 04, 2013, at 4:18 PM, plange01 wrote:

    a smart move with the growing problems boeing is having with its new NIGHTMARE LINER!

  • Report this Comment On September 05, 2013, at 2:23 AM, ChnBadBoy wrote:

    it all depends on the price and incentives Delta got from Airbus if Delta was smart to go with this plane. since the Airbus planes Delta is buying is going to be replace by a better version, I am pretty sure Delta got a very attractive deal.

    but the Boeing plane that should be used to compare with the Airbus A330-300 is the Boeing 777-200, not the Dreamliner (besides, the Dreamliner's battery problems will be history by the time Delta takes delivery of this order).

    as a traveler and customer, i don't really care if the plane is Airbus or Boeing as much as how the airline is configuring the seats: more room and a power plug for economy passengers gets my vote.

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