PARIS — European aerospace giant Airbus (IW 1000/47) is poised to sign a contract to deliver 50 long-haul carriers to US Delta Airlines in a deal worth $14 billion (11 billion euros) at catalogue prices.
Under the terms of the deal, Airbus will deliver 25 A350-900s, the company's new long-haul carrier that this month received certification from the US Federal Aviation Authority and is due to enter service by the end of the year, a source close to the negotiations said on condition of anonymity.
The other 25 planes will be A330-neos, an updated version of its wide-body medium-haul jet with fuel-saving engines which is slated to enter into service at the end of 2017.
"The order should be finalized in the coming days," said one of the sources. "The announcement could be made at the beginning of next week."
Delta had asked Airbus and Boeing (IW 500/13) in April to submit offers as the airline considers replacing its ageing fleet of long-haul 747-400 and 767-300 jets, saying it expected to place an order by the end of the year.
The A350-900 is designed to compete with Boeing 777 and 787 jets in the lucrative long-haul segment and has already received 750 orders.
Equipped with Trent XWB engines from Rolls-Royce, the plane can transport 315 passengers up to 14,500 kilometres (9,000 miles).
Delta already has a sizable fleet of Airbus aircraft, with 126 single-aisle medium-haul A320s and 32 A330s. It has recently made orders for another 55 Airbus planes.
Aerospace analyst Christophe Menard said that Airbus likely benefitted from the fact that it could deliver A350s rather quickly after Emirates cancelled in June an order for 70 of the aircraft.
"Boeing, on the contrary, doesn't have quick slots available for its 787," he said.
Westhouse Securities said in a note to investors that the order indicates that the delivery date is becoming a crucial factor for airlines.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014