Delta Air Lines has struck a deal with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for an additional 30 narrow-body A321neo jets, bringing its total order for the aircraft type to 155. The airline also has six classic A321 jets still to be delivered and purchase rights for an additional 70 of the next-generation A321neo aircraft.
The new aircraft, which are expected to start being delivered from early 2022, will feature a brand new domestic First Class seat, new seatback television screens at every seat, high-speed WiFi, larger overhead bins and LED mood lighting.
The new aircraft will help Delta compete head-on with United, whose chief executive Scott Kirby has embarked on a mission to take the airline more upmarket and appeal to premium business travelers. In June, United announced its largest ever aircraft order totalling 270 additional single-aisle aircraft that the airline says will transform the passenger experience.
Delta will be renewing its ageing fleet with its more fuel-efficient A321neo aircraft through 2027 with Airbus supplying the airline from its U.S. manufacturing facility in Alabama.
“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,” commented Mahendra Nair, Delta’s senior vice president for fleet and TechOps supply chain.
Delta will configure its A321neo with a maximum capacity of 194 passengers, split between 20 in First Class, 42 in Comfort+ and 132 in Main Cabin.
Mauricio Parise, Delta’s managing director of product development said the airline had spent hundreds of hours talking to customers about what its new First Class seat should look like.
“We’ve completely customized every feature on the seat to create a truly unique, premium seating product for domestic First Class,” Parise says of the Recaro manufactured seats.
Key features include a fixed headrest for increased privacy, a larger and sturdier tray table, increased storage and memory foam padding.
United hopes to have rolled out a signature new look cabin to two-thirds of its narrow-body fleet by 2023 as part of its efforts to woo premium passengers. The airline is also promising larger overhead lockers, LED mood lighting and the industry’s “fastest available in-flight WiFi”.
As well as offering better First Class seats, United also claims it will offer more premium seats than other airlines operating the same size of aircraft.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.