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Delta Officially Picks Up 10 LATAM A350 Orders
Delta Air Lines confirmed it has officially absorbed an order for 10 Airbus A350 aircraft from LATAM Airlines Group. The group, which currently operates a fleet of 330 aircraft, has been forced to cut 95 percent of its flying as a result of the global COVID-19 crisis. Through the deal with Delta, the Atlanta-based carrier has alleviated a $3 billion burden off LATAM’s shoulders.
Meanwhile, Delta has deferred its near-term Airbus deliveries as the airline deals with a 95 percent drop in travel demand. Delta originally announced its intention to acquire 10 Airbus A350s, which LATAM had committed to purchase from Airbus, in September 2019.
These ten aircraft were originally scheduled to be delivered between 2020 and 2025, however, Delta expects changes to its current delivery schedule. In addition to LATAM’s 10 A350s, Delta currently has over 230 Airbus aircraft on order including 32 A330-900neos and 16 A350-900s.
Delta spokeswoman Lisa Hanna told Reuters: “Given the current environment, we are working in close partnership with Airbus on further rescheduling opportunities across our entire order book.”
Delta has grounded six of its new A350 jets as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The airline has also parked at least one of its five brand new A330neo aircraft. The airline has grounded over 600 jets at various airports around the world.
LATAM Brasil CEO Jerome Cadier expects pre-crisis passenger numbers to return in two to three years. The Brazilian subsidiary of LATAM is currently seeing sub-10 percent load factors on the domestic flights it is still operating.
This is not the first time LATAM is sending its A350s to other airlines. While Delta will receive 10 new jets from Airbus, LATAM previously leased four of its Airbus flagship to Qatar Airways in 2017. Qatar Airways owns a 10 percent stake in LATAM. At the time, the Doha-based carrier was in need of more aircraft as it experienced delivery delays from Airbus.
While these aircraft were only temporarily with Qatar Airways, they were re-registered with a Qatari registration and were often dubbed QATAM aircraft since they offered LATAM’s hard product and Qatar’s crew and soft product.
This lease occurred while both LATAM and Qatar Airways were members of the oneworld Alliance. LATAM is scheduled to leave the global airline alliance on May 1, in favor of new relations with Delta and its joint-venture partners.
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