Delta orders Airbus A350-1000 wide-body jets

The nose of an Airbus A350. Airbus had lagged behind Boeing on orders through October. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

The nose of an Airbus A350. Airbus had lagged behind Boeing on orders through October. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Delta Air Lines announced it is ordering 20 Airbus A350-1000 jets, along with options to buy another 20 of the aircraft.

The A350-1000s from the European aircraft manufacturer are scheduled to be delivered starting in 2026.

Atlanta-based Delta said the larger jets will allow it to add more seats, including premium seats, and improve fuel efficiency. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the Airbus A350-1000 will replace the Boeing 767 fleet, and allow for growth in seats and capabilities on long-range flights.

“Airbus has been our preferred provider on our wide-bodies for the last decade,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We’re excited about taking the 350-1000.”

Delta has been flying a different version of the A350 — the A350-900 — since 2017.

“We’ve been with the A350 for the last seven or eight years and that is our flagship product,” Bastian said. “For purposes of consistency and simplification and efficiency, it’s much better to grow scale within a single aircraft type than two.”

The list price for the Airbus A350-1000 was $366.5 million in 2018, the last time Airbus published list prices. However, airlines typically negotiate discounted rates for bulk orders.

The A350-1000 will have more premium seats than the aircraft it will replace. The airline also struck an agreement with Rolls Royce to service the Trent XWB-97 engines on the A350-1000s.

Bastian said recent problems Boeing has had, with its 737 Max 9 jets, did not have an influence on the decision on the A350-1000 order. The Max 9 was temporarily grounded for inspections after the mid-air blowout of a door plug on a Max 9 being flown by Alaska Airlines a week ago. The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday said it is investigating whether Boeing failed to ensure products were in condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations.

While Delta also flies the 737-900, which also has door plugs, Bastian said those aircraft have gone through heavy maintenance checks including examination of the door plugs, “and we’ve seen no issues in that at all.”

“We need both manufacturers to be healthy, providing new technology, innovation and reliability, and Boeing is a great company,” Bastian said. “Boeing is a really important company to this industry, to this country, and I have full confidence that they will learn from this event and will be better for it.”