Delta Air Lines will need to order additional new widebody aircraft in order to keep its fleet competitive, Moody’s Investors Service finds in a new report.
“We believe that the widebody fleet remains in need of investment to remain competitive in the long-run on international missions,” write analysts Jonathan Root and Michael Mulvaney in a credit opinion released today. “Updating this part of the fleet will provide significant operating and maintenance efficiencies, including improved fuel burn and service reliability.”
The rating agency says that the average age of the fleet is “nearly 14 years” with Delta’s Boeing 747 and Boeing 767 fleets averaging more than 17 years.
An order – or orders - would likely be placed in the next two to three years, says Moody’s.
Atlanta-based Delta’s widebody fleet consists of 11 Airbus A330-200s, 21 Airbus A330-300s, 16 747-400s, 74 767-300s, 21 767-400ERs and 18 Boeing 777-200s, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. The average age is 15 years with the 747s averaging 20 years old and the 767s 17 years.
The carrier has firm orders for 10 A330-300s and 18 Boeing 787-8s, according to Ascend.
Delta prefers to buy existing technology aircraft versus the newest models fresh from the drawing board. For example, it ordered current generation Airbus A321 and A330 aircraft rather than next generation A321neo and A350 aircraft this past September.
“My balance sheet is not equipped to take [next generation aircraft’s] technical risk,” said Richard Jacobson, chief executive of Delta, in an interview with Airline Business in November. “I’m pleased that other airlines will do that. Once those airplanes are proven, then we’ll be in a position to be able to operate them.”
Delta was not immediately available for comment.
Moody’s rates the airline B1 with a positive outlook.