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airboeingbus
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Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:04 pm

So I’ve just come off a DL A320 that’s approaching 25 years old. The interior was completely brand new and had full IFE and WiFi. If I hadn’t checked the tail number I would of thought the plane was brand new. This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe? Why do other airlines seem to dispose of planes before 20 when DL invests to keep them going?
 
iahcsr
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:11 pm

Ah, UA is doing much the same thing... Age is measured in total flight hours and cycles, not in calendar time.
Properly cared for, aircraft will last much longer than you seem to think.
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Jayafe
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:17 pm

airboeingbus wrote:
...This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe?...


UA and DL seem to disagree. Plenty of variable involves apart from pure age of the frame. Getting new planes every 15 years for no reason than saying so makes much less sense.
 
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exFWAOONW
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:21 pm

Properly cared-for DC3s are still flying, so what is your point? Do you really expect the airlines to spend billions on shiny aluminum tubes on your $99 round trip fare?
Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
 
zschocheimages
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:29 pm

If they didn't invest the money in a cabin refresh passengers would complain about the outdated "old" airplanes. There's a lot of money being pumped into upgrading the passenger experience right now. Is that a such a bad investment - regardless of the age of the airframe?
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wedgetail737
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:38 pm

Also with the airline industry raging nowadays, airlines need all of the resources they can get!
 
Noise
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:41 pm

clrd4t8koff wrote:
exFWAOONW wrote:
Properly cared-for DC3s are still flying, so what is your point?


Op clearly stated their point. If you missed it that's on you.

exFWAOONW wrote:
Do you really expect the airlines to spend billions on shiny aluminum tubes on your $99 round trip fare?


Not everyone fly's Allegiant, Spirit or Frontier.


Some of my AA and DL roundtrip flights have almost come to be that cheap :lol:
 
clrd4t8koff
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:42 pm

exFWAOONW wrote:
Properly cared-for DC3s are still flying, so what is your point?


Op clearly stated their point. If you missed it that's on you.

exFWAOONW wrote:
Do you really expect the airlines to spend billions on shiny aluminum tubes on your $99 round trip fare?


Not everyone fly's Allegiant, Spirit or Frontier.
 
IADCA
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:47 pm

exFWAOONW wrote:
Properly cared-for DC3s are still flying, so what is your point? Do you really expect the airlines to spend billions on shiny aluminum tubes on your $99 round trip fare?


There's a real difference between an unpressurized DC-3 and an A320, which does have cycle limits.

But that (plus hyperbole and anger) aside, the point is valid. Airlines face a tradeoff of capital costs for buying or leasing new aiframes versus maintaining and overhauling/refurbishing older ones. Within the enormous fleets at DL and UA, they mix both. Some other carriers with smaller fleets, better (or worse) access to capital or spare parts, and any number of other variables can push the decision one way or the other. People sometimes act like this is an either/or decision, but even DL (to use the airline mentioned in the OP) has these older A320s but also nearly 50 brand-new A321s with a boatload more on the way.
 
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exFWAOONW
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:54 pm

clrd4t8koff wrote:
exFWAOONW wrote:
Properly cared-for DC3s are still flying, so what is your point?


Op clearly stated their point. If you missed it that's on you.


My next sentence clearly addresses what I believed to be his point. Selectively quoting me is't on me.
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timf
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 12:55 pm

Delta isn't afraid to invest in full refurbs only to retire the aircraft a few years later. Look what happened with the 747-400s.
 
leghorn
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:07 pm

I don't consider a 25 year old example of a plane which is (basically still) currently manufactured and operated by a tier one airline necessariy old. If were being used on short hops 14 times a day I might change my view.
A 737 model which was the model before the last model before the last model which has been passed from master to master is on the other hand ancient.
Anyhow, IFE and Wifi can be canibalized when moved on to a new owner.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:15 pm

Delta has parked a few 26.0-27.0 year old A320s. The sentiment they're going to fly forever is a.net fiction.

Right to the OP's question: For product commonality across the type.

Lots of U.S. carriers fly aircraft more than 20 years old: it isn't just Delta and Allegiant. Play around on planespotters.net and you'll find plenty among AA and UA fleets, too. Southwest and Alaska, with NG (or now Max) 737s don't have any oldsters.
 
xdlx
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:18 pm

a number of reasons NOT so obvious... while it takes 15-25years to depreciate a new airframe. The refurbishing can be depreciated in 5years or less.
 
Tan Flyr
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:20 pm

Not sure exactly about how many, but I'm sure I read that DL and maybe UA have invested in life extension programs on some A320's..adding years yet to a quite usable aircraft. An several have alluded to, it is in the overall mix and cost evalutaion and ROI on all investments.

IF a 320 can be refurbished and over hauled for say, 7 million a pop, and it adds X more cycles that would cover say 7 more years..probably a good investment as they are relatively fuel efficient. OTH, as much as I love the MD 80.( AA) .(it built like a tank), it's time is running out..for a whole host of reasons (fuel, parts, and for that aircraft , pax perceptions. No one would put much $ into them for pax service
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:25 pm

While obviously there is serious accounting math that goes into the calculations and decision to refurbish older aircraft, it's because Delta (unlike many other players in the industry) understands the marketing value of offering a consistent product across its entire range. Maintaining passenger experience consistent, especially at a high level (if compared to direct competitors) generates brand equity and even sales - making the investment worthwhile.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:36 pm

airboeingbus wrote:
So I’ve just come off a DL A320 that’s approaching 25 years old. The interior was completely brand new and had full IFE and WiFi. If I hadn’t checked the tail number I would of thought the plane was brand new. This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe? Why do other airlines seem to dispose of planes before 20 when DL invests to keep them going?


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Flighty
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:46 pm

Generally DL does this mainly because DL has the capability to do this, and most average airlines out there do not. Also, Delta is a mature customer to OEMs who is expected to pay strong prices for new aircraft. So the equation tips to used aircraft more easily. But mostly it is about DL Tech Ops confident capability.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 1:49 pm

I flew ORD-DTW on N340NB on Monday. It too had a brand new interior and looked really smart.
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klakzky123
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:06 pm

This is the benefit of having DL Tech Ops in house. DL has the scale to be able to retrofit their entire fleet as needed. For other airlines, it costs a lot more to do this sort of work. There's a lot of math that goes into these decisions and Delta makes it a point to have a common passenger experience across its fleet.
 
jplatts
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:06 pm

While DL hasn't already ordered any A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes, DL could order A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes in order to replace the older A320s in DL's fleet.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:14 pm

iahcsr wrote:
Ah, UA is doing much the same thing... Age is measured in total flight hours and cycles, not in calendar time.
Properly cared for, aircraft will last much longer than you seem to think.


UA is doing the opposite. They seem to be ditching the aircraft over 20 years
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:32 pm

I've flown on a bunch of DL 763s and 752s (and even a 753) recently, and the refurbished interiors are very smart and up to date. As you said you wouldn't know that these were aging airliners from stepping onto them, and it makes a big difference to customer perception.

I am more likely to book DL based on this experience.
 
ken4556
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:39 pm

As has been reported before, Delta is being very conservative and consistent (year to year) on the capitol outlays for aircraft purchases & refurbishments. By using a combination of both, they are avoiding the mistakes that American (are making in my opinion) by going further and further in debt. Yes, the planes may cost more to maintain and in fuel, but it is offset by the payment required of new planes.

Think of owning a car, paying more for gas (less fuel milage) and minor repairs on a yearly basis still can be a lot cheaper then that monthly car payment.

Delta has a debt of 9 Billion, targeting down to 4 billion in 2020.

American has a debt of 25.3 billion (All the new aircraft has caused Americans' debt burden to balloon from $16.8 billion at the end of 2013 to $25.3 billion by the end of 2017).

When the good times for the airlines hit a bump, how is American going to handle it is a big question for me...
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm

Whether or not to refurbish an older airplane probably has a number of factors. It will include age, number of cycles, number of cycles until a C-check or D-check, fuel consumption, and availability of spare parts. I suspect that maintenance history for any given aircraft plays a role.

Airbus is still building the A320 line, and the engines probably are deemed acceptable, as oil continues to climb.

I'm sure that someone calculated when any given A320 is due for heavy maintenance and, based on the time remaining, the decision was made whether or not to refurbish the cabin. If a plane is due for heavy maintenance in 3 years, then it's worth it to update the cabin.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:50 pm

Armodeen wrote:
I've flown on a bunch of DL 763s and 752s (and even a 753) recently, and the refurbished interiors are very smart and up to date. As you said you wouldn't know that these were aging airliners from stepping onto them, and it makes a big difference to customer perception.

I am more likely to book DL based on this experience.


And that is why they do it.
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:50 pm

airboeingbus wrote:
So I’ve just come off a DL A320 that’s approaching 25 years old. The interior was completely brand new and had full IFE and WiFi. If I hadn’t checked the tail number I would of thought the plane was brand new. This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe? Why do other airlines seem to dispose of planes before 20 when DL invests to keep them going?


I know UA has and assume DL has too: worked with Airbus and FAA to achieve a 'life extension" on the frames. United is getting some from I believe China Southern. I cant recall DL but a search should bring it up.

The low cost of acquiring the frame plus cost of heavy maintenance and cabin upgrades still makes them a financially sound decision in the current environment (note- yes, fuel going up. At some point, the economics will change)
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:52 pm

I know that DL is retiring the oldest A320s in the fleet, but certainly some of those being retained and refurbished are at or above 20 years. As others have noted, if properly maintained, they can remain in the fleet many more years. I recently flew a pair of refurbished A320s DEN-LGA-DEN (the version with PTVs), and the new interiors are really nice. It's hard to tell those aircraft have been flying since the 1990s. My biggest complaint is the lavs; those things are tiny.
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jscottwomack
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:52 pm

There are a LOT of former Northwest people at Delta. Northwest was the master of keeping older aircraft flying. They had 35 year old DC9's flying back in the day.
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 2:57 pm

One of the many reasons DL is my go-to carrier.
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bkflyguy
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:04 pm

Two things. Money and availability of new frames. It costs a lot less to refurbish an older aircraft's interior if the plane itself has been well maintained. The cost of the interior and 5-10 years of additional maintenance is less than buying a new frame. But, even if it wasn't, it's not like Airbus and Boeing can just magically supply new planes whenever Delta wants them. So, by refurbishing and stretching out the replacement cycle, Delta can order frames and take delivery when needed and when delivery slots are available.
 
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Slash787
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:05 pm

They need to get more Neo's
 
carljanderson
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:18 pm

Most customers don't know the age of the aircraft. Last year, I was walking on a DL 752 and the people in the seats behind me were commenting on how this was a new plane. The plane was 19 or 20 years old at the time.
Last edited by carljanderson on Thu May 24, 2018 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:22 pm

airboeingbus wrote:
So I’ve just come off a DL A320 that’s approaching 25 years old. The interior was completely brand new and had full IFE and WiFi. If I hadn’t checked the tail number I would of thought the plane was brand new. This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe? Why do other airlines seem to dispose of planes before 20 when DL invests to keep them going?


The seats, IFE and WiFi can be easily refitted to other aircraft. They won't be thrown-out when the aircraft is eventually retired.
 
gadFly
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:45 pm

If the planes are paid for, it often makes sense to squeeze the max out of them. Swissair was famous for that, as was Northwest, now part of Delta.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 3:45 pm

Also, DL has the MD-80 & MD-90 retirements to deal with as well as bringing the new CS100
fleet up to speed. Makes sense to make the investment to keep the A320's going for awhile longer
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:01 pm

An airline can run a mix of old and new frames. It helps especially when you have seasonal up and down in usage. In the season you run all frames . Off season you run the mainly the new frames. It is less expensive to park older and written off frames. If you need frames standing around for emergencies older frames are less expensive.
You simply run the newer frame with a high usage and the older frame with a lower usage.
If you care for your corporate image the customer does not see on the inside if he rides on an old or young frame.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:04 pm

Someone mentioned spare parts. The MD90s are apparently going bye-bye due to the unavailability of reasonably-priced engine overhauls and parts for those overhauls. This materially changes the fly-it/park-it analysis. Also, a reputation for being happy to refurbish older aircraft works as a stalking horse when negotiating to purchase new ones.

Consistent product was Anderson's be-all-and-end-all. An amazing task with a fleet that large, but DL has largely-delivered. Remember how they had 100-percent wifi when everybody else had a handful of wifi-enabled aircraft? DL has decided that this makes a difference. The folks who spend wisely in this business are the ones that make money.
 
george77300
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:09 pm

jplatts wrote:
While DL hasn't already ordered any A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes, DL could order A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes in order to replace the older A320s in DL's fleet.


DL have ordered 100 new A321neo. And options for many more. They don’t just buy old planes.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:20 pm

wjcandee wrote:
Someone mentioned spare parts. The MD90s are apparently going bye-bye due to the unavailability of reasonably-priced engine overhauls and parts for those overhauls. This materially changes the fly-it/park-it analysis. Also, a reputation for being happy to refurbish older aircraft works as a stalking horse when negotiating to purchase new ones.

Consistent product was Anderson's be-all-and-end-all. An amazing task with a fleet that large, but DL has largely-delivered. Remember how they had 100-percent wifi when everybody else had a handful of wifi-enabled aircraft? DL has decided that this makes a difference. The folks who spend wisely in this business are the ones that make money.


DL are pursuing the higher product consistency standard that nice hotel chains hit, but US legacy airlines haven't hit in years or maybe decades. So they are indeed marching to a different drummer. Spending money they don't REALLY need to spend, but that will foster positive DL brand experiences. Rather than just adequate.

And yes, across 700 aircraft the math is terrific. At 2 weeks per airplane, a blistering pace, they can only do 26 aircraft per year (in a line). So they have multiple lines of refurb going semi indefinitely(?!).
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:22 pm

george77300 wrote:
jplatts wrote:
While DL hasn't already ordered any A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes, DL could order A320neo or 737 MAX 8 planes in order to replace the older A320s in DL's fleet.


DL have ordered 100 new A321neo. And options for many more. They don’t just buy old planes.


Those aren't likely to be replacing the A320s and A319s though. I could see them replacing the majority of their 757-200 domestic aircraft with this new fleet.
To me, it will always be:
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:29 pm

jscottwomack wrote:
There are a LOT of former Northwest people at Delta. Northwest was the master of keeping older aircraft flying. They had 35 year old DC9's flying back in the day.


However, NW let the airplanes look 35 years old.
 
malev2012
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 4:50 pm

So is DL adding IFE to all 320s they plane to keep? I know some 320s I have bookings with this year don't have IFE.

As far as brand consistency, this is why I tend to book towards DL and away from AA. Sorry but for 4 hour flights I don't want to worry about finding a power port for my own device. The removal of IFE on AA planes is more than enough to drive me to book DL fares that run a bit more, not mention on time performance.
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:09 pm

Having been a Delta frequent flyer for two decades, the aesthetic improvements in the last 8 or so years have been welcomed. The fleet commonality that many have mentioned goes a long way for the average passenger. For those of us who fly weekly, we have come to expect it. A recent experience on AA reminded me of hopping in my friend's old Valent when I was a teenager. Everything was worn out, cracked and you were not sure if you should touch some things. Not all AA plane are that way, they just seem slower in updating the interiors.
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:20 pm

Northwest did the same with their hodgepodge fleet of DC9's, with an interior similar to the (at the time) 717 interior. If the fleet is properly maintained, and an interior retrofit is financially feasible, I understand why an airline would invest the money.

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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:22 pm

wjcandee wrote:
Someone mentioned spare parts. The MD90s are apparently going bye-bye due to the unavailability of reasonably-priced engine overhauls and parts for those overhauls. This materially changes the fly-it/park-it analysis. Also, a reputation for being happy to refurbish older aircraft works as a stalking horse when negotiating to purchase new ones.


Any details on this? MD-90 uses the V2500 engine, which is the same engine used on about 40% of A320s. Granted, the MD-90 uses a different sub variant, but is it that different?
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:27 pm

We had a DL poster say a few months ago that the time in service to generate a ROI on these cabin mods was less than five years. I expect the 320s will be the next narrowbody fleet to have a replacement order placed, but DL will have its hands full over the next few years drawing down the M88s and M90s. The cabin mods make sense if these aircraft will serve until the early- to mid-2020s.

I was surprised they refitted the remaining older, first-generation-engined aircraft (ships up to 3226), but the business case must be there.
 
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:28 pm

airboeingbus wrote:
So I’ve just come off a DL A320 that’s approaching 25 years old. The interior was completely brand new and had full IFE and WiFi. If I hadn’t checked the tail number I would of thought the plane was brand new. This seems a bit wasteful when there surely can’t be much life left in that airframe? Why do other airlines seem to dispose of planes before 20 when DL invests to keep them going?


My guess would be that it is more economically viable to update an existing frame than to buy a new one. It can be especially so if the aircraft in question has a lot of life left in it (cycles/hours).
 
timf
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Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:30 pm

malev2012 wrote:
So is DL adding IFE to all 320s they plane to keep? I know some 320s I have bookings with this year don't have IFE.

As far as brand consistency, this is why I tend to book towards DL and away from AA. Sorry but for 4 hour flights I don't want to worry about finding a power port for my own device. The removal of IFE on AA planes is more than enough to drive me to book DL fares that run a bit more, not mention on time performance.

All the remaining A320s should be receiving AVOD. There are currently 16 in service that have not received it yet, and they are on pace to finish mods by the end of the year. There's a good chance your flights will have AVOD, but Delta typically takes the approach of not advertising it if there's a chance of an equipment swap in order to avoid disappointment.
 
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flymco753
Posts: 3412
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 2:09 am

Re: Why is DL investing money in 20+ year old A320’s

Thu May 24, 2018 5:33 pm

The 320's COULD be around for 20 more.
...the carriage of liquids, gels, and aerosols are prohibited through the screening checkpoint except for travel size toiletries of 3 ounces or less...

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