Delta buys 100 Boeing Max planes, its first major order from the manufacturer in more than a decade

Delta buys 100 Boeing Max planes, its first major order from the manufacturer in more than a decade

Delta Air Lines is buying 100 Boeing 737 Max 10 planes, the first major order for new planes from the US manufacturer in more than a decade.

The contract has options for another 30 aircraft. Distribution is scheduled to begin in 2025.

The new order is good news for Boeing as Airbus has recently won high-profile sales with several Chinese state-owned airlines. Boeing lamented the trade tensions when that order was announced.

Delta said Monday that the order will modernize its narrow-body fleet as the carrier tries to rebound travel following record declines caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It says the Max planes will be 20%-30% more fuel-efficient than the jetliners they will replace.

Atlanta-based Delta is the only one of the four leading U.S. carriers not to have ordered new Boeing jets in recent years, favoring Airbus as it expands both its narrow-body and long-range wide-body fleets. Delta retired older Boeing 777s during the pandemic and is taking more deliveries of Airbus A350 twin-aisle aircraft.

The 737 Max was grounded for at least 18 months after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. The US lifted the grounding in November 2020. Delta’s competitors faced capacity constraints during that period as deliveries of the new Max were put on hold.

The Max 10 model is the largest of the narrow-body Max family and does not yet have government approval. Boeing hopes to have the planes approved by the end of the year. A rule passed in the wake of the two accidents requires new planes to be equipped with cockpit alert systems.

Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, had previously hinted at an order for Max planes. Asked about potential orders for the narrow-body aircraft at a recent investor conference, Bastian said, “We’re trying to get a deal with Boeing … hopefully we’ll be able to find it.”

Delta will configure the aircraft with 182 seats: 129 in standard economy, 33 in comfort+ with extra legroom and 20 in first class.

Boeing shares rose 4% in premarket trading, while Delta shares rose more than 2%.

Most of Delta’s new orders in recent years have come from Airbus of Europe.

In 2017, Delta was at the center of a trade dispute between Boeing and Canada’s Bombardier, then the manufacturer of the C-Series narrow-body plane, ordered by Delta. Boeing accused Bombardier of selling the planes below cost, a case it ultimately lost. Airbus later took over the program and renamed the aircraft the A220.

Sneha Mali

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