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.