US major, Delta Air Lines will initially place its new Airbus A321 fleet into scheduled passenger operation on flights from its Atlanta hub from the second quarter of this year, it has emerged in a recent OAG inventory update from the carrier. As revealed by our Airline Route blog, the first of the new equipment will enter operation from May 1, 2016 on up to six flights per day between Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Orlando International Airport.
Delta placed a firm order for 30 Airbus A321s as part of a wider deal with the European aircraft manufacturer in September 2013 to support its short- and long-haul fleet renewal. This was followed by an opportunistic order for 15 additional aircraft in June 2014 as the carrier took advantage of reduced prices as Airbus cleared final production slots for its current engine option (ceo) offering ahead of the full transfer of production to its new engine option (neo) family.
Delta plans to use the type to replace older less-efficient domestic Boeing 757 aircraft that are being retired from Delta's fleet and, according to its flight schedule inventory will configure them in a two-class arrangement with 20 First Class seats and 169 Economy seats, including extra-legroom seats in its Economy Comfort cabin.
"This opportunistic aircraft order continues Delta's disciplined, capital efficient approach to fleet renewal," said Richard Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Delta Air Lines at the time of the follow-up order. "These new airplanes will improve the flying experience for our customers and benefit our shareholders."
The airline’s flight inventory currently shows the aircraft entering passenger service on the ‘DL1518’ 06:20 departure from Orlando to Atlanta on May 1, 2016, subsequently operating the ‘DL1718’, ‘DL1983’, ‘DL1341’, ‘DL1058’ and ‘DL966’ flights from Orlando and ‘DL2018’, ‘DL2169’, ‘DL1058’, ‘DL966’, ‘DL1669’, ‘DL1769’ flights from Atlanta. This initial six times daily return schedule will gradually increase to 14 times daily by October 2016.
After its Atlanta - Orlando debut, the A321 will be introduced on flights between Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale from June 1, 2016. The type will initially be used on just a single daily rotation (‘DL1527’) but will increase to a three times daily schedule from July 5, 2016 and gradually up to eight daily by the end of August.
From September 2016, the A321 will also be introduced on a single daily flight between Atlanta and Tampa, increasing to six daily in October, while from November 6, 2016 the type will also be introduced into the Atlanta – Fort Myers market (daily, growing to twice daily from December 17, 2016) and Atlanta – Jacksonville market (initially four times daily but increasing to five times daily from December 17, 2016).
All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer 4 per cent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives the airline the option of extending its range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometers or increasing payload capacity by some 1,000 pounds/450 kilograms.
Many of Delta’s A321s will also be delivered from Airbus’ brand-new A320 Family assembly line in Mobile, Alabama. By 2017, the Mobile facility is expected to produce four aircraft per month.