It's not a rumour.
The "rumor" I'm talking about is the actual return of the proposed JNB route, not the current internal proposal. I feel like this is one we'll talk about for a while about a potential return.
Larger aircraft that is lighter and burns a lot less fuel. Better premium product as a benefit to your customers as well and premium economy instead of just extra legroom for added revenue. I think they can make the economics work.
The larger aircraft is actually a slight negative on the demand side with more seats to fill. Also, the 77L now has the latest D1 seats, Premium Select, and retained Comfort+. There's no advantage there for the A359.
Look at it from a network cost perspective. Costs are on a collective basis. For example, let's go back to pre-crisis, and let's assume that the A359 had the range for a nonstop JNB-ATL. If DL had replaced the 77L with an A359 (and moved the 77L to the former A359 route), it would have saved on trip cost on the JNB run. However, in order to retain the same network capacity, the former A359 route now has higher trip costs with the 77L. It's essentially a wash. There was no "savings" with the switch to the A359. Now add in a tech stop for the A359, and we can assume a switch to the A359 is worse economically than a 77L. It's not using your fleet to their strengths. Another indication of that? DL had no plans of moving the 77L off the route.
In the short-run this won't be a major factor as airlines won't be at pre-crisis capacity, but eventually it will be a factor again, and it could come sooner for DL by retiring 18 long-range aircraft. The options for long-haul routes has shrunk. The CPT tech stop will strip away a portion of the A350 trip cost savings, and it requires a more capital-intensive newer airplane. If DL has to acquire airplanes to service this route and the others it plans for, the math is very tough. This route will compete with other routes for the services of two A359s, and I can see this not coming back for a while.
And yet DL has already announced the A359 is replacing the 777.
No, that's not quite accurate.