Delta Air Lines

How Did Delta Air Lines End Up Using Mainly Airbus Wide Body Planes?

Of the big 3 US airlines the Delta fleet stand out from the other two for one major reason. Among these 3 giants of civil aviation, Delta is the only one to use wide body Airbus planes for its long range operations. How did Delta end up with its Airbus fleet? How come it’s the only one using Airbus wide bodies?

Where did Delta Air Lines’ Airbus Fleet Come From?

Only in the recent past has Delta started ordering planes directly from Airbus for its fleet. Previous models it owned were either taken over from bankrupt airlines or integrated into the fleet as the result of a merger.

In the past Delta had taken over 31 Airbus A310 (8 A310-200 and 23 A310-300) in 1991. These planes used to fly for PanAm, however when the airline went out of business Delta took over this part of the fleet.

The second chunk of Airbus planes to join the Delta Air Lines fleet, came from Northwest Airlines. NWA merged with Delta Air Lines in 2008 with the former brand ceasing to exist in 2010.

The merger brought into Delta all of the Northwest Airlines fleet. NWA’s fleet featured a very large number of both narrow body and wide body planes.

The older planes in the fleet, such as the Boeing 747-400s and the 757-200s, were let go. The much newer Airbus A320 family planes and A330s were maintained.

How did Delta Air Lines Acquire a large Long range Airbus Fleet

Why Does Only Delta Use Large Numbers of Airbus Wide Body Planes?

As the A330s acquired from Northwest were quite new, with delivery continuing up to the year before the merger, Delta opted to base most of its long range operations on these planes. Once this path was undertaken it only became logical for the airline to acquire more Airbus long range planes.

Simply because the amount of supplementary training needed to get a type rating for a pilot on a different aircraft is minimal. The systems on an A320 are very similarly structured to those on the A330 or A350.

Delta has however also kept in its fleet a significant amount of Boeing long range capable planes, such as the 767-300 and 767-400 along with the 757-200 and 757-300. The 757’s however are used mainly for flights within America. The 767s, as the A330s and A350, operate regularly flights across the Atlantic.

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