GEORGIA, ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines is reportedly in advanced negotiations with the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, driven by the surging demand for long-haul flights as airlines strive to reinstate their pre-pandemic networks and phase out outdated planes. 

Unnamed sources close to the situation suggest that the conversation involves a considerable order for twin-aisle A350 and A330neo jets, however, a deal is far from guaranteed.

According to insiders, the potential order could encompass dozens of planes, aligning with Delta's strategy to retire more than 100 of its aging A330 and Boeing 767 fleets. Although representatives from both Delta and Airbus declined to comment on the ongoing confidential discussions, the airline's recent activity hints at a shift towards Airbus.

The industry is witnessing a resurgence in long-distance travel, following a brisk rebound in shorter journeys from the pandemic-induced travel decline. Airlines are capitalizing on this recovery, securing delivery slots despite manufacturing challenges such as labor and part shortages.

As a testament to the rising demand, Delta has seen a significant uptick in international travel, increasing its seating capacity by over 20% this quarter compared to the same period last year. In an April 13 conference call, Delta President Glen Hauenstein revealed that about 75% of global seats were already booked, and the airline was operating its largest-ever transatlantic schedule.

Despite the promising outlook and the high demand for Airbus and Boeing's flagship wide-body jets, sources warned that the discussions are not yet at an advanced stage. Still, the looming Paris Air Show – the aviation industry's largest trade fair – next month might encourage both parties to expedite the process.

Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, currently operates both Airbus models under discussion and has previously signaled an interest in acquiring more A330s. As the largest operator of that Airbus type, Delta boasted a fleet of 63 planes as of March, including 21 of the re-engined A330neo, renowned for its superior fuel economy.

Furthermore, the airline's Boeing 767s - some of the oldest aircraft in its fleet - could potentially be replaced by the more cost-effective A330neos. As of the end of March, Delta's fleet included 66 Boeing 767s, with an average age of 27 years for the 767-300ERs and just over 22 years for the 767-400ERs. Delta also had a fleet of 28 Airbus A350s, a more modern, advanced aircraft, with a total of 33 A330s and A350s on order as of March 31.