ATLANTA, GEORGIA — The American airline operator Delta Air Lines will help the European planemaker Airbus in its effort to develop a hydrogen-powered passenger airplane.

With this partnership, Delta becomes the first U.S.-based airline the European planemaker is partnering with for hydrogen aircraft. Atlanta-based Delta said the partnership does not entail any financial investment on its part.

Airbus has plans to produce a small "ZEROe" passenger aircraft powered by hydrogen to enter service in 2035.

“To pull the future of sustainable aviation forward, we need to accelerate the development and commercialization of potentially disruptive technologies,”

said Pam Fletcher, Delta’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

“Hydrogen fuel is an exciting concept that has the potential to redefine the status quo. These tangible steps lay the groundwork for the next generation of aviation,” 

Fletcher added.
Under the agreement, Delta will provide the expertise of its people to identify fleet and network expectations, and the operational and infrastructure requirements needed to develop commercial aircraft powered by hydrogen fuel. The areas of focus will be:

  • Aircraft Concept: Exploring the technical and economic viability of hydrogen-fueled aircraft, identifying the pathway for introduction into Delta’s fleet and operations, as well as the aircraft’s potential performance in Delta’s fleet. That includes identifying challenges such as flight range limits, refueling time and airport compatibility.
  • Aviation Ecosystem: Assessing the infrastructure that will be needed to develop green hydrogen, bring it to scale and implement at airports nationwide, as well as analyzing regulation and costs, to identify a clear path for progress ahead.
  • Coalition Building: Advocating for a decarbonized future in aviation, including pathways to hydrogen production, with key industry stakeholders.

"To decarbonize aviation, we need to develop the right technology bricks and a dynamic hydrogen eco-system,"

said Julie Kitcher, Airbus E.V.P. Communications & Corporate Affairs.

"Through close collaboration with key partners, such as Delta, we will integrate our customers' expertise and specific needs to ensure our zero-emission aircraft will be a game-changer for sustainable aerospace."

This program builds on Delta’s ongoing Flight to Net Zero efforts through coalitions that aim to bring to life the next chapter of aviation. Reaching net-zero requires a holistic approach to decarbonization and collaboration across all corners of the industry. The announcement builds on Delta's recent investment through its pension plans in TPG Rise Climate fund, which focuses on supporting climate solutions at scale. Delta has also joined the First Movers Coalition, a public-private partnership, and platform designed to accelerate and scale the development of breakthrough climate technologies.