Airbus won a hotly contested order from Delta Air Lines covering 100 A321neos powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofans on Thursday, dealing the Boeing 737 Max 10 program a punishing blow and fueling conjecture over the residual effects of the U.S. manufacturers decision to pursue an anti-dumping case against rival airframe maker Bombardier. Schedules call for entry into service in the Airbus Cabin Flex configuration in the first quarter of 2020 and for deliveries to continue into 2023. Delta has chosen a three-class, 197-seat cabin layout and plans to use the new jets to replace its aging MD-90s, Boeing 757s and Airbus 320s. As if to emphasize commitment to U.S. jobs, Airbus said it would build most of the 100 A321neos at its plant in Mobile, Alabama.
Although in October Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the airline would give Boeing every opportunity to win the deal, industry analysts saw the U.S. companys pursuit of a trade case that eventually resulted in a preliminary duty assessment of 300-percent on the sale of 75 Bombardier C Series jets to Delta as a potential disqualifier of the 737 Max 10. Whether or not the case proved to influence Deltas decision in favor of Airbus remains an open question, however.
This is the right transaction at the right time for our customers, our employees and our shareholders, said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. Delta, Airbus and Pratt & Whitney share the same commitment to safety, efficiency, innovation and continuously improving the customer experience. This order for the state-of-the-art A321neo with Pratts Pure Power next-generation jet engines reflects our long-term commitment to these values for Delta people and all our constituents.
Meanwhile, the deal also comes as a major boost for Pratt & Whitney, whose PW1000G geared turbofan family has suffered considerable teething pains in their service entry on the A320neo, in particular. Recently Qatar Airways replaced a 2011 order for 34 Pratt-powered A320neos and 16 A321neos with a contract for mainly A321neos, the engine choice for which could go to rival CFM.
The contract accompanies a long-term commitment with Pratt & Whitney for Delta-owned MRO provider Delta TechOps to support the PW1100G and PW1500G engines, which power Deltas A321neos and would-be Bombardier C Series aircraft, respectively.
Delta said the deal will create significant job growth within the Delta TechOps workforce. It comes as Delta invests in engine overhaul capabilities at its Atlanta Technical Operations Center, including the first new engine test cell built in the U.S. in more than 20 years.
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