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Delta reviewing widebody jet orders in setback for Airbus

Delta has no twin-aisle orders pending with Boeing, but it has 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 A330-900s on order with Airbus, according to the two jet makers’ websites.

Delta Air Lines is reviewing its widebody jet orders amid signs that the long-range travel market is saturated, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said Wednesday.

The move is a setback for Airbus, which landed a $14 billion deal with Delta in 2014 after out-dueling Boeing, the carrier’s longtime aircraft supplier.

Delta has no twin-aisle orders pending with Boeing, according to the U.S. plane maker’s online database.

The prospect that Delta could postpone or cancel deliveries heightens concerns that demand for long-haul jets is weakening. The Atlanta-based carrier is planning to take the first of its Airbus A350s later this year to replace the Boeing 747 jumbos that once shuttled its passengers to Asia and Europe. The airline is also a customer for Airbus’ A330neo, an upgraded model slated to take its first flight this year.

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“We continue to see excess capacity in wide-bodies as we look to the future for the industry as a whole,” Bastian told analysts on an earnings call Wednesday. “We continue to look internally as to what that means for Delta,” he said, adding that the airline is in discussions with plane makers.

“You could anticipate some reductions, I think, broadly over the next several years,” he said.

Delta has 25 Airbus A350-900s and 25 A330-900s on order with Airbus, according to the European company’s website. The review adds to the uncertainty over Airbus’ efforts to penetrate Boeing’s home market with its next-generation models. United Continental Holdings said last year it was reviewing its purchase of Airbus’s A350-1000s.

“It’s not appropriate for us to comment on our customers’ internal analyses,” Mary Anne Greczyn, a spokeswoman for Airbus, said by email. “However, as a leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus continually engages our customers around the world to help optimize their fleet needs.”

Sales of twin-aisle jets have slowed as the market absorbs a surplus after Boeing and Airbus boosted output at a 16 percent annual pace from 2011 through 2015, said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group. Late last year, Boeing announced a second cut to the production rate of its 777 jetliner amid a sales drought, while Airbus’ A330neo orders have stalled, he said.

In December, Delta scrapped a longstanding order for 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets that it inherited in its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. At the time, the airline said the decision was consistent with the need “to prudently address our widebody aircraft needs.”

American Airlines Group. is scheduled to take the first of 22 Airbus A350 XWBs next year, said Joshua Freed, a spokesman. He declined further comment. The planes were ordered by US Airways…

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