The deal is the first major aircraft purchase between Boeing and Delta in more than a decade
Delta Air Lines has announced an agreement to buy 100 Boeing 737 Max 10 aircraft in a deal worth up to $13.5 billion at list price. The order, announced at the Farnborough Air Show, represents the airline’s first major order for new Boeing aircraft in more than a decade.
The order will modernize Delta’s narrow-body fleet with aircraft that are 20 to 30 percent more fuel-efficient than the jetliners they will replace. Delivery of the new jetliner, which is the largest of the 737 Max family, is set to begin in 2025, and the order comes with an option to purchase an additional 30 planes.
“The Boeing 737-10 will be an important addition to Delta’s fleet as we shape a more sustainable future for air travel, with an elevated customer experience, improved fuel efficiency and best-in-class performance,” said Ed Bastian, the airline’s chief executive officer.
However, the aircraft has yet to be approved by regulators, and Boeing is facing a December deadline to get the government’s go-ahead. Otherwise, the airliner must meet new cockpit alerting requirements put in place under a 2020 law, which would require the aircraft to be certified as a new type rather than a variant.
Unless the additional requirements are waived by Congress, the change would further delay certification and could even threaten the entire 737 Max-10 program, according to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun. However, in the interview with Aviation Week, Calhoun said he did not expect the 737-10 to be canceled, adding, “It’s just a risk.”
For its part, Delta said it expects certification to be completed in early 2023. In the event of a delay, the airline said “the agreement has adequate protection in place, including allowing Delta to shift to another model of the MAX family if necessary.”
The order is another boost for the aircraft manufacturer, which has faced troubles with both its 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner deliveries. The Max fleet was grounded for nearly two years following two fatal crashes.
But with software updates and enhanced flight crew training, the jetliners are back in the air and meeting “strong demand” from airlines, according to Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal, with over 1,000 gross orders and 1.7 million flight hours.