By Benjamin Pham
Delta Expands Order For Airbus A321neo
This summer’s holiday travel season was drastically different from last year’s, which took place at a height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Passengers this summer have been eager to return to leisure travel, which has caused a substantial influx in travel demand. As a result, the major airlines have been faced with the obligation to bolster their flight schedules and rapidly return aircraft to service for key routes while continuing to retire and replace inefficient, uneconomical planes.
In response to the upward trends in demand for travel, Delta announced its decision to expand upon its initiative to renew its fleet, announcing it would add orders for 30 Airbus A321neos on top of an existing contract with the European aircraft manufacturer.
The aircraft are intended to replace aging and less-efficient aircraft. Currently, in its extensive fleet, Delta operates 121 of the larger A321ceo — short for current engine option — variant and plans to take delivery of its first A321neo — an abbreviation for neo engine option — in the first half of next year.
“Adding these aircraft strengthens Delta’s commitment to replacing older fleets with more sustainable, fuel-efficient jets, and offers the best customer experience in the industry,” Delta Senior Vice President for Fleet and TechOps Supply Chain Mahendra Nair said in a statement. “Delta appreciates the extensive partnership with the Airbus team in support of our strategic growth plans, and we look forward to continuing to work together throughout the recovery and in the years ahead.”
After 2022, deliveries for the airline’s new, more sustainable aircraft are expected to continue through 2027. As part of its ongoing fleet renewal initiative, the carrier began taking delivery of A321neos in 2016, starting off with 87 aircraft. The A321neo has a higher seating capacity and includes engine technology that differs from that in other A321 variants.
“Our partners at Delta are underscoring the strategic role the A321neo will play as the highly efficient platform for Delta’s renowned customer service and reliability for many years into the future,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.
The airline industry at its roots is linked to the creation of air pollution and carries the reputation of not being environmentally friendly. Delta is working to depart from that as it aims to become carbon neutral — or achieve net-zero carbon emissions — in the foreseeable future. Earlier this year, prior to World Environment Day on June 5, the airline launched a partnership agreement with CWT, a travel management platform for business practices, to help with the airline’s “Flight to Net Zero” project.
“Flight to Net Zero introduces travelers to our commitment to carbon neutrality,” said Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s Managing Director of Sustainability. “We are actively pursuing a new path forward for aviation, so our customers do not have to choose between seeing the world and saving it.”
Within the agreement, the SkyTeam carrier plans to focus on carbon reductions and ultimately removal, coalition building and stakeholder engagement with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The airline’s newer A321neos have modern engines that operate using 12% less fuel than those on the A321ceos.
Of course, Delta is currently in the midst of crafting its own response to the evolving travel demand changing daily as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its effects. At the same time, it faces the challenge of operating sustainably and moving away from traditional fossil fuels in favor of SAF.
However, it is important for the airline to continue fostering these partnerships and ensure the airline’s fleet adheres to sustainable practices. In doing so, the results will make Delta’s initiative for using SAFs closer to reality, while contributing to the evolution of the airline industry in the years ahead.