Delta Air Lines is poised to fly its modern Airbus A350s on Sydney-Los Angeles flights by the end of 2020, as its 18-strong fleet of Boeing 777s face retirement.
Like the Boeing 777s they replace, the A350s sport the carrier’s prized Delta One Suites in business class, offering not only fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for every passenger, but also a closing privacy door to help maximise rest on those transpacific treks.
Premium economy, branded as Delta Premium Select, also appears on the A350s, providing a comfortable reclining seat with a sturdy leg-rest, ample legroom, high definition inflight entertainment and more, as well as complimentary inflight messaging via Delta WiFi.
“We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis,” says Delta COO Gil West.
“Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision,” adds Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in an internal memorandum to the airline’s staff sighted by Executive Traveller.
“Our A330s and A350-900s, which are more fuel-efficient and cost-effective, will perform long-haul flying as international demand returns,” Bastian adds.
As even the most fuel-efficient A330s in Delta’s fleet, the A330-900neos, don’t have the legs to fly between Sydney and Los Angeles – at least, in the way Delta has configured them – this route will be one for the Airbus A350s.
But when will Delta be back?
What’s less clear is when Delta will return to Australia, as its sole route Down Under remains suspended since March 18.
Delta is currently selling three return flights per week between Sydney and Los Angeles from June 6 2020, but with various travel bans likely to remain in place well beyond that date – including on most foreign visitors to Australia, and on Australian residents jetting abroad – that date may change.
Arch rival and Qantas partner American Airlines isn’t planning to resume flights to Australia and New Zealand until at least October 2020, while fellow opponent United Airlines is only running flights between Sydney and San Francisco, for now.
Virgin Australia continues to fly between Brisbane and Los Angeles once per week on behalf of the Australian Government – while Qantas is similarly flying weekly between Melbourne and Los Angeles.