Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it was exercising options to buy 25 Airbus A321neo aircraft and accelerating deliveries of three other planes as it banks on a rebound in travel demand as Covid-19 ebbs.The US carrier also announced an additional 25 purchase rights for the A321neo, the latest model in Airbus’s A320 narrowbody series, the most-ordered series in commercial aviation history ahead of the Boeing 737.
“With our customers ready to reclaim the joy of travel, this agreement positions Delta for growth while accounting for the planned retirements of older narrowbody aircraft in our fleet,” Delta Senior Vice President Mahendra Nair said in a statement.
Nair added that the addition “addresses our carbon footprint, increases efficiency and elevates the customer experience.”
The new planes would be delivered in the first half of 2022. Delta also said it would take deliveries of two A350-900s and one A330-900neo by the second half of next year, earlier than initially planned.
“We have managed the challenges of the last year together with our customers, and it is gratifying to be taking steps like this one towards the regrowth of our industry with our longstanding partner, Delta,” Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said.
Airlines worldwide have been slammed by a drop in travel demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but as vaccinations become widespread in the United States, carriers have announced plans to bring back staff and restart shuttered routes.Delta last week reported a quarterly loss, but pointed to an expected return to profitability later in 2021 amid quickly rising travel demand.
The big US carrier was cashflow positive in March for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit a year earlier as more newly vaccinated Americans booked vacations.