The Editor’s Corner #26 – The A35K/Delta Order Rumour Mill Highlights Strong Momentum for Airbus

Airbus A350-1000 Carbon Livery
Airbus A350-1000 at Farnborough Airshow 2018 (Photo: Thomas Saunders/AviationSource)

LONDON – It remains clear that the A35K/Delta order rumour mill is a strong reflection of sales momentum that Airbus has had with the A350-1000 over the years. Welcome to The Editor’s Corner.

The Editor’s Corner is an op-ed series from AviationSource Editor-in-Chief James Field, who is going to give his thoughts (Maybe controversial) on all things going on in the aviation industry.

In case you have missed the last 25, feel free to browse through them before you continue to read this piece:

  1. The Editor’s Corner #1: The Industry Isn’t Ready for Summer 2022 Demand
  2. The Editor’s Corner #2: JetBlue’s Offer for Spirit Airlines Will Change The American Airline Dynamic
  3. The Editor’s Corner #3: Boris Johnson’s Damage To The Aviation Sector is Another Reason for Resignation
  4. The Editor’s Corner #4: PLAY Will Transform The Market with a Post-Pandemic Edge
  5. The Editor’s Corner #5: Detriment of the Boeing 737 MAX & 787 Is Causing a 777X-Based Aftershock
  6. The Editor’s Corner #6: Qantas’ Plans For The Future Will Turn Around Negative Times
  7. The Editor’s Corner #7: The P2F Market Is Hotting Up…
  8. The Editor’s Corner #8: O’Leary Is Gunning For Another Cheap Boeing Order
  9. The Editor’s Corner #9: Ukraine Crisis: Turkish Airlines’ A350 Snap-Up from Aeroflot May Have Something To Do With A Red Carpet…
  10. The Editor’s Corner #10 – Ukraine Crisis: Lessors Will Not Win The Russia Battle
  11. The Editor’s Corner #11 – Spirit Airlines Are Slowly Changing Their Mind…
  12. The Editor’s Corner #12 – The Indian Air Cargo Market Is Hotting Up
  13. The Editor’s Corner #13 – Video Footage From RedAir Flight 203 Highlights Dangers of Carrying Luggage During an Evacuation
  14. The Editor’s Corner #14 – The Spirit-Frontier-JetBlue Battle for Merger Will Be Remembered As A Mess
  15. The Editor’s Corner #15 – Flyr, Norse & Norwegian Have Opportunity to Capitalise on SAS’ Woes
  16. The Editor’s Corner #16 – The Airbus & Boeing Battle Will Heat Up At Farnborough
  17. The Editor’s Corner #17 – My Predictions for Farnborough Were Well Off…
  18. The Editor’s Corner #18 – Why Do Airports & Airlines Fight Over Chaos When Government is to Blame?
  19. The Editor’s Corner #19 – Manchester Airport Has Resolved Its Chaotic Period – But Improvements Are Needed…
  20. The Editor’s Corner #20 – Ukraine Crisis: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Russia Return Was A Mistake From The Get-Go
  21. The Editor’s Corner #21 – More Than Meets The Eye to The Emirates-United Codeshare
  22. The Editor’s Corner #22 – Israel Banning Boeing 747s Will Have Massive Impact on Cargo Operators
  23. The Editor’s Corner #23 – Amid Their Chaos, Qantas Is Taking The Fight to Air New Zealand
  24. The Editor’s Corner #24 – The Russian Airline Industry Is Heading for a Nosedive
  25. The Editor’s Corner #25 – Downfall of Doncaster Represents The Beginning of the Regional Collapse

The A35K/Delta Order Rumour Mill Highlights Strong Momentum for Airbus

With Delta rumoured to order some Airbus A350-1000s, it’s clear that this highlights some strong sales momentum and interest from the carrier off the back of its strong start with the -900 family.

However, it does seem that there may be more to this than meets the eye, especially with the debacle Airbus has been dealing with regarding Qatar Airways.

Either way, it’s going to be another potential major order for Airbus’ long-haul program, and the possibilities with this could be endless.

Delta: Strong Success With The -900

Delta Air Lines has had strong success with the -900 variant of the A350 for quite some time now, placing it on the highly-in-demand routes.

With the airline wanting to potentially order 20 -1000s, this wouldn’t be much of a surprise, especially from a passenger capacity point of view.

Depending on what they want to do with the -1000s, it will be interesting to see, if the order is confirmed of course, what sort of destinations they will serve with the type.

Sceptics are saying there is a reason for the -1000 potential order, and it does kind of make sense…

Bottomfeeding from the Qatar Airways Debacle?

With the remaining Qatar Airways A350 orders scrapped following the lawsuits in London, this does free up some delivery slots for other carriers to take advantage of.

Qatar does have a mix of -900s and -1000s, with some still yet to be delivered. With these delivery slots vacant, and other airlines not wanting to order more in the wake of a global recession, a bottom feed does look to be taking place.

Delta has always been known for negotiating significant deals for a lower price point, so the same could be ongoing with Airbus. Scherer, the Airbus sales chief, will probably want to get rid of these delivery slots too.

So, either way, it does appear to be a win-win for Delta at this time.

Project Sunrise: Could Delta Do The Same?

The -1000s does open up the opportunity for Delta to delve deeper into the Ultra Long Haul market, especially through the added fuel efficiencies that the ULRs would add.

When the order is announced, it will be interesting to see down the line what sort of seating configuration Delta wants to offer with these aircraft.

A higher seat configuration would indicate higher density routes, with a more respectable count indicating the push for distance from its bases in New York & Atlanta etc.

With Qantas having good success off their 787 Dreamliner ultra-long-haul flights already, as well as expanding its fleet into the ULRs too, this would also make sense for Delta to do as well, and could initiate some feisty price wars in the future.

ULRs Could Be The Next USP…

If Delta do go for a more ULR-based approach, this could be the next unique selling point (USP) that Airbus could push with the A350, especially when it comes to reaching far-out destinations.

It ultimately depends on whether Delta will join the Qantas bandwagon on this, as it will then begin to show a very slow pattern in the demand for ultra-long-haul travel.

With the benefit of no stopovers, this is something that consumers may choose to get onboard with in the future, as consumer choice and preference has changed more recently over the years due to COVID.

However, with the global recession shaking down a lot of carriers, such deliveries may not take place until we reach a point where the economy has recovered. All is to play for at this stage.

Overall: The -1000 Is The Conclusion to Its Fleet Renewal Plans…

It does remain clear that if this order goes ahead, the -1000 will be the finalization of the airline’s fleet plans.

Delta has placed a lot of orders in the last couple years, more notably for A321neos, A220s, A350-900s as well as the Boeing 737 MAX more recently at Farnborough.

Looking ahead, it’s going to be interesting to see where Delta aims to take the fleet, as well as the important question being: What will they do with their A35Ks?

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