Delta executive says no fit for A380 in carrier's system

June 16 Mon Jun 16, 2014 4:09pm EDT

June 16 (Reuters) - The Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, does not figure in the current plans of Delta Air Lines Inc, an executive at the carrier said on Monday, citing the reliability and efficiency of smaller aircraft.

"We don't see an application for the A380 in our network," Steve Dickson, senior vice president for flight operations, said during an interview at the AIAA Aviation Forum in Atlanta.

The A380, which entered service in 2007, can carry more than 500 passengers. Airbus has been trying to boost sales of the plane.

Earlier this month, Delta ordered 15 Airbus A321 narrowbody jets in a deal valued at $1.65 billion at list prices. It also has issued a request for proposals for the purchase of as many as 50 widebody jets.

Dickson said planes with four engines such as the A380 were likely "not viable" for most of Delta's markets. "The reliability of the two-engine airplanes and the efficiency of them is just too compelling," he added.

Dickson, who is qualified as a Boeing 757/767 captain and has also flown the 727 and 737 at Delta, also said the carrier was not seeing a shortage of pilots. While some regional carriers have cited problems finding qualified pilots, Dickson said Delta had not seen a big impact yet at its feeder carriers.

Delta is hiring 50 pilots a month for the foreseeable future, Dickson said. He added that the majority of the new pilots were replacing retiring aviators.

"There's a lot that's changing in the industry right now in terms of the career path for pilots that we need to make sure that we stay abreast of," Dickson said. "For example, there are fewer military pilots available. The number of pilots who have been coming out of U.S. flight training schools has been declining for a number of years. We also have a lot of retirements."

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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