Delta looks to double Seattle gates as wide-body decision nears

Delta Air Lines wants to double the number of its gates at Seattle, potentially allowing more than 300 flights a day, Bloomberg News reports. The story appeared just weeks before Delta will make its decision whether to order 50 wide-body jets from Airbus or Boeing, with about half of them planned for trans-Pacific service from Seattle and Delta’s Detroit hub; and the other half for trans-Atlantic service from New York and Atlanta.

Best-and-final-offers from Airbus and Boeing were due last week or this week and an internal decision is due after Thanksgiving, we are told. Delta is expected to announce its decision at its annual investors day, which is December 11 this year.

Airbus has its annual investors days December 10-11 in London. We don’t ascribe any significance to the concurrent dates, since these are dates of long-standing in years past.

The Airbus A330-900neo, A350-900 and Boeing 787-9 are the competing products. The A330neo is widely considered the “perfect” trans-Atlantic airplane with the A350 and 787-9 viewed as the trans-Pacific aircraft. Delta wants deliveries from 2017 for the Pacific airplanes and from 2019 for the Atlantic aircraft, sources tell us.

Airbus and Boeing delivery slots for the A350 and 787 are nominally sold out to 2020, but we are told each has found slots to offer Delta. Airbus was counting on Delta to be an early customer for the A330neo and the 2019 timeline for the Atlantic airplane must be a bit of a disappointment. The A330neo is planned for entry-into-service in December 2017, with slots available in 2018 (which is when we think EIS will actually fall).

Delta wants 25 airplanes for the Pacific and 25 for the Atlantic, sources tell us. This means it’s possible DL could make the order in two tranches of 25 each, awarding one on December 11 and putting off the second tranche until later.

We don’t have enough visibility to suggest an outcome for either the timeline or the equipment choice. The A350-900 carries somewhat more passengers than the 787-9 but the latter has more range. Either is “too much airplane” for the Atlantic services, for which the A330-900 would be ideal.


26 Comments on “Delta looks to double Seattle gates as wide-body decision nears

  1. Interesting. Delta (the Northwest bloodline) has a reputation for real down to earth opportunistic fleet management, often buckling trends.

    Competitors could IMO be (you never want to exclude one with those folks):

    A333 CEO (new & used)
    A330-900 NEO

    Trans Pacific:
    777-200ER/LR used
    B777-300ER new

    IMO a conservative best of both worlds for new aircraft would be 787-9 /-10 for Atlantic and A350-900/-1000 for Pacific. The 787 seems too small for Pacific.

  2. If I were a betting man, I’d guess that Delta has received very good offers for the 787-9 and the A330-900neo. In my estimation, Airbus is less likely to go after a marginal deal with the A350, since its order book is very strong. The leadership of Delta probably also sees the long-term added value in maintaining close relationships with both OEMs, which would further tilt the ‘pros and cons’-analysis in favor of a split order. It’ll be really interesting to hear Anderson explain their decision.

    • Please, could anyone tell me, what the difference in range is between 787-9 and 350-90?

  3. According to Leeham EKs 777-300ERs are now going for scrap, looks to me like an opportunity for Delta to cover the Pacific cheaply and quickly, I’m guessing A330 in some form for the Atlantic side.

    I wouldn’t rule out a handful of used EK A380s either.

    • Do you guys not read the choices?

      Delta (and I take them at their word unless proven otherwise) are going to buy 787 or A350, period.

      Both, maybe though there was no indication they would split it.

      As Scott noted, 787 too much range for the Atlantic (and also the pax count for the pacific).

      We know the chocies, lets see waht they order.

      • I always laugh when I read people say “Delta may order some A380s” with this widebody order. I mean, come on….it ain’t that hard to read this:

        Delta Air Lines has narrowed down its options for a planned widebody order to either the Airbus A350-900 or the Boeing 787-9, says chief executive Richard Anderson.

        “We’re in the process of either choosing a 787-9 or an A350-900,” he said during a speech at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport Foundation on 24 September,. “The important thing about that is that fleet is going to unlock the longer haul markets.”

        Delta began evaluating options for an up to 50 widebody aircraft order to replace the 16 Boeing 747-400s and majority of the 58 Boeing 767-300ERs in its fleet in April. Only aircraft currently offered by airframers, including the Airbus A330-200 and -300, A350-900 and -1000, Boeing 777-300ER and 787-8, -9 and -10, were being considered, it said.

        And, oh yeah, this too:
        “Conventional wisdom would teach us that giant aircraft would have lower cost per passenger and be more economical for heavily traveled routes. However, Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson disagrees, saying, “The A380 is, by definition, an uneconomic airplane unless you’re a state-owned enterprise with subsidies.””

        But the A380 brigade will not stop. Hope never dies, I guess. But nope, people will still trot out “The A380 is perfect for Delta to replace the 767/777/747/757/737/MD80” craziness just to see Delta buy the plane. But you know what Einstein said…..

        • Neutron73

          Re the about comment

          “Conventional wisdom would teach us that giant aircraft would have lower cost per passenger and be more economical for heavily traveled routes. However, Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson disagrees, saying, “The A380 is, by definition, an uneconomic airplane unless you’re a state-owned enterprise with subsidies.””

          Ever consider the possibility Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson has got it wrong

          Emirates Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori may the following comments regarding regarding the A380 on the 10/11/2014

          “Dubai-based Emirates switched to A380s on its Dallas route on Oct. 1 and will upgrade San Francisco and Houston flights in December, with further U.S. destinations set to get the double-decker, Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori said today.

          Emirates also added three wholly new U.S. routes in 2012, followed by Milan-New York in 2013, and has opened Boston and Chicago this year. The move to A380s on services established using smaller Boeing Co. (BA) 777s will challenge U.S. and European carriers that have dominated trans-Atlantic flying for decades while employing capacity constraint to keep prices buoyant.

          “In the future we will continue to open destinations and introduce A380s in more cities because the market just wants and likes this airplane,” Antinori said, adding that U.S. demand is increasing both for Gulf flights — with Dubai “developing strongly” — and onward services to locations such as India.

          Emirates will have 68 A380s in operation by the end of 2015 compared with 55 today, having boosted the fleet from 44 as of Jan. 8. The carrier has orders for a total of 140 superjumbos after topping up an initial contract for 90 planes with a $20 billion deal for 50 more at the Dubai Air Show last November.

          Antinori, who spoke in Dubai, said that it’s not simply the case that
          Emirates has stripped traffic away from Western network carriers such as his former employer Deutsche Lufthansa AG, but that the A380 has also stimulated demand.

          Whereas the top 20 European airlines carrying 400 million passengers a year have 30 A380s between them — in service with three carriers — Emirates has almost double that number.”

          Personally I would to fly in an Emrates A380 than any of the aircraft operated by Delta – and I know I plenty more people who would agree.

          • I don’t agree or disagree with what Richard Anderson says.Whether he is wrong or right about the A380 isn’t the issue; what is is what he said is on the table for the upcoming order.

            All I do know is that he has said they’ve narrowed it down to the A350 and 787. Somehow I don’t see “A380”, “777” or “747” in there. It isn’t a matter of “what I’d prefer” it is simply “this is what he says Delta will buy”. That’s why it is so funny to see people say “I could see Delta buying a few A380s” when he has basically expressly said “No.” Why do people continue to swerve the talk to A380s or 747-8i or Sukhoi Superjet (just kidding) is beyond me.

          • As I remember the context of the comment by Richard Anderson was about new aircraft.

            Delta owns 49 % of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic has still 6 A380 on order (EIS 2018).

          • Neutron73

            I too realizse Richard Anderson is not going to buy A380 for Delta, but I did object to him saying – “The A380 is, by definition, an uneconomic airplane unless you’re a state-owned enterprise with subsidies.”

            I also believe Tim Clark of Emirates would also disagree and he runs to most successful airline on the planet todate.

  4. Assume 1 LD3 with payfreight (159 cuft) fetches a revenue equivalent to 13 Y-class passengers paying full fare, then (payload range limitations excepted) the capacity of the A350 is as follows :

    -800 : 276 MD pax + (28 – X) x 13 virtual LD pax = Total1
    -900 : 315 MD pax + (36 – Y) x 13 virtual LD pax = Total2 (where Y = 1.14 X)
    -1000 : 369 MD pax + (44 – Z) x 13 virtual LD pax = Total3 (where Z = 1.34 X)
    (where X = number of LD3 requisitioned by CIL – checked-in luggage – in the A350-800)
    MD = main deck – LD = lower deck

    Doing this little exercise for all the aircraft on keesje’s shopping list will explain why Delta will prefer to deploy A330 and A350 units on 90 % of its network … consider the eventuality of A380 deployment elsewhere and you get a fair picture. The rest is Politics and/or $$$$ wheeling/dealing or supplier relations management ?

  5. Detroit is Delta’s pacific hub, inherited from NWAC’s strong Asia network.

    Drawing a 6000NM range from there gives a impression on the importance of payload- range. Delta has high load factors, cargo is very important, Asian airfields are often hot, headwinds are there and ETOPS reserves required.

    So put all the great passenger, still air ranges of 7000-8500Nm in the trash bin 😉 A well loaded 777-300ER starts off loading cargo long before 6000NM (straight line) flights (sea level runway, still air..).

    Almost all Transpacific flights are payload restricted. And that’s where Delta will be making their fleet / network simulations and trade-offs. And e.g. quads start looking better..×360&PM=*

  6. Pingback: Any "Latest & Greatest" about Delta? - Page 17258 - Airline Pilot Central Forums

    • The report I saw has now been identified as a 200ER, not as 300ER–which would make more sense.

    • I find it pretty amazing that an 18 year old 777 is being scrapped.

      Emirates has a pretty meticulous rep and flies long segments, so it is probably in very good conditions with relatively low cycle count compared to something like a similarly aged 737…

      presumably it needs a D-Check, paint job and minor refurb on the interior, but this would seem to be a perfect aircraft for a charter/excursion/developing nation airline.

  7. Also note that 25 of the wide bodies to be stationed in Seattle.

    That changes the range issue signficantly from Detroit, though memory says it was Minneapolis that was the Intenational hub though I flew N.W. into Seattle back in the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *