Delta is known for buying only planes from foreign manufacturers. If they buy Boeing, it’s used.
They’ve long been at odds with Boeing, from opposing re-authorization of the Import-Export Bank (whose biggest beneficiaries are Boeing and GE); seeking protectionist crackdown on big Boeing customers Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar are big Boeing customers; and buying Bombardier C Series which Boeing sought government protection from.
In fact Delta CEO Ed Bastian has called Boeing an ‘arms dealer’ to Middle East airlines after his predecessor at the helm of the Atlanta-based carrier intimated that Boeing customers from the Gulf were complicit in 9/11.
But proving that Boeing will sell to anyone, and Delta will buy anything if it’s cheap enough, Delta Air Lines is reportedly in talks for 100 Boeing 737-10 MAX jets in a deal that could be announced in the coming weeks.
While it remains possible that leaks from multiple sources are intended as a stalking horse to drive down price on a similar deal with Airbus (it would hardly be the first time a deal was done this way) or that the deal could fall apart, indications are that this is both real and likely.
The deal, if confirmed, would be the first order from Delta for Boeing’s best-selling single-aisle airplane family, and the first major Boeing order for the carrier in a decade.
It comes as Delta – the only major U.S. carrier without a 737 MAX on order – reshapes its fleet in anticipation of a swift recovery from the pandemic.
The airline does need to refresh its narrowbody fleet, potentially on top of the roughly 150 Airbus A321neos and A220s (new name for the C-Series) already on order. They also have Airbus widebodies on the way in the form of both A330s and A350s.
Currently Delta has about 60 Boeing 717s, 77 Boeing 737-800s, and 111 Boeing 757-200s. The MAX 10 is Boeing’s largest new narrowbody jet that they’re working hard to get into commercial service after first flying in June 2021.