Delta orders 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets

The final version of the 737 Max, the Max 10,  takes off from Renton Airport in Renton, WA on its first flight Friday, June 18, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Combined ShapeCaption
The final version of the 737 Max, the Max 10, takes off from Renton Airport in Renton, WA on its first flight Friday, June 18, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Delta Air Lines is adding the Boeing 737 MAX to its fleet with an order for 100 of the jets.

Atlanta-based Delta announced the order for the 737 MAX 10, the largest model of the MAX family, at the Farnborough Air Show in Britain on Monday, along with an option for 30 more of the aircraft. The narrow-body jets to be delivered starting in 2025 will be used to replace older, less fuel-efficient aircraft in Delta’s fleet of more than 800 aircraft.

It marks Delta’s first Boeing order in about a decade, after the airline shifted its attention to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus with a series of major orders in recent years. The 100 737-10s are worth about $13.5 billion based on their list price, though airlines typically negotiate steep discounts for bulk orders.

However, the 737-10 has still not been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Aviation Week reported this month that Boeing could cancel its development of the 737-10 if Congress does not extend a deadline for changes to the flight deck alerting system. Delta said it expects the 737-10 to be certified in 2023, but it can shift its order to another model of the MAX family of jets if there is a delay.

The uncertainty comes after the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded for nearly two years after two fatal crashes. Delta at the time was one of the only major U.S. carriers that did not fly MAX aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration in 2020 cleared the jet to return to the skies after a 20-month review and changes to design, software and training.

“These new aircraft provide superior operating economics and network flexibility, and the agreement reflects our prudent approach to deploying our capital,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian in a written statement. The airline plans to fly the 737-10 from its hubs in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a statement that the 182-seat 737-10 will provide Delta “the best economics to carry more passengers across its short and medium-haul routes.”

The 737-10 will be 20-30% more fuel efficient than the retiring planes it will replace, according to the airline. Delta has 77 Boeing 737-800s that average nearly 21 years old and have 160 seats. Other older, smaller aircraft in Delta’s fleet include Boeing 717s to be retired by the end of 2025, as well as A319s and A320s.

Delta plans to have the planes configured with 129 seats in the main cabin, 30 Comfort+ seats with extra legroom and 20 first class seats, power ports and in-flight-entertainment at every seat and high-speed satellite Wi-Fi.

Final assembly of the planes will be done at Boeing’s facility in Renton, Washington. Boeing’s headquarters are in Chicago but announced in May it will move its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia.

The 737-10s will have LEAP-1B engines made by CFM International, a company owned by GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. Delta also announced Monday that its TechOps maintenance unit — the largest maintenance, repair and overhaul business in North America — will service LEAP-1B engines that power Boeing MAX planes operated by Delta and other airlines under an agreement with CFM International.

More aircraft order news is expected as the Farnborough Air Show continues this week. Bastian said last week that Delta was in talks with both Boeing and Airbus for more large narrow-body planes.