Delta Orders Up To 130 Boeing 737 MAX 10s

Delta Orders Up To 130 Boeing 737 MAX 10s

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Delta is the biggest airline in the United States that doesn’t currently have the Boeing 737 MAX in its fleet (which I’d consider to be a positive, personally, since I prefer the A321neo to the 737 MAX). For a couple of years now, there have been reports of Delta being in negotiations with Boeing for the purchase of 737 MAXs.

The time has finally come, and Delta has announced a massive Boeing 737 MAX 10 order. Whether or not the airline ever takes delivery of these planes, though, is a whole different matter.

Delta orders up to 130 Boeing 737 MAX 10s

Delta has just placed an order for up to 130 Boeing 737 MAX 10s at the Farnborough Airshow — this includes 100 firm orders, plus the option for 30 more of these jets. Delivery of these planes is only expected to start in 2025, though even that timeline is in limbo, as Boeing is struggling to get the 737 MAX 10 certified, and has even threatened to cancel the plane.

Delta has ordered Boeing 737 MAX 10s

It’s claimed that these 737 MAX 10s are 20-30% more fuel efficient than the planes that they replace, which are presumably previous generation Boeing 737s. For context, the 737 MAX 10 is the highest capacity version of the Boeing 737, and it’s bigger than previous generation versions of the 737.

Delta expects to install 182 seats on its Boeing 737 MAX 10s, including 20 first class seats, 33 Comfort+ seats, and 129 economy class seats. The planes will of course feature the Boeing Sky Interior, personal televisions, Wi-Fi, and more.

Not only is this Delta’s first 737 MAX order, but it’s also the carrier’s first new aircraft order from Boeing in about a decade. Delta CEO Ed Bastian has for many months been hinting at the possibility of a deal with Boeing, stating that “there’s certainly a place for [the MAX] if we can figure out how to bring them in.”

It’s believed that one motivation for this deal is that Bastian thinks it’s politically important to have some new aircraft orders with Boeing, rather than just with Airbus.

Delta has long been an opportunistic aircraft buyer, and has taken a different strategy than other major airlines in the United States:

  • Delta is happy to buy used aircraft, and also operates planes longer than other airlines; used planes can often be purchased for a fraction of the cost of new planes, and the airline makes the interiors nice so that customers won’t feel like they’re flying on an older plane
  • When Delta buys new aircraft, the airline is typically looking for a great deal; Delta is very strategic about when it buys new aircraft
Delta recently picked up some used Airbus A350s

Go figure that for a long time Delta not buying the 737 MAX was a huge competitive advantage. When the plane was grounded due to two fatal crashes, that posed a great challenge for American and Southwest (at least pre-coronavirus), since they had to significantly reduce capacity. With the 737 MAX flying once again, that’s no longer the case.

How does the 737 MAX 10 fit into Delta’s fleet?

In the long run I can see why Delta might want to place a Boeing 737 MAX order. The airline is willing to fly planes that are 20+ years old, so perhaps the need isn’t as immediate as at other airlines. But looking at Delta’s narrow body fleet:

  • Delta has 95 Airbus A220s on order, which more than replace the carrier’s 53 Boeing 717s; then again, Delta retired all of its MD-80s during the pandemic, leading to a significant capacity reduction
  • Delta has 127 Airbus A321s in its fleet, which are an average of around three years old, and the airline also recently started taking delivery of its first of 155 Airbus A321neos; these will more than replace the carrier’s 127 Boeing 757s (arguably the airline could use some A321XLRs for long and thin routes)
  • Delta has 114 A319s and A320s, which are an average of well over 20 years old, so these will need to be replaced at some point
  • Delta has 77 Boeing 737-800s in its fleet, plus 159 Boeing 737-900ERs, which are an average of over 10 years old

What surprises me about this deal is that Delta is looking at the 737 MAX 10, rather than the smaller variants. The 737 MAX 10 is a competitor to the A321neo, so you’d think that Delta already has that segment of the market well covered, especially since these planes are still quite new. However, it looks like Delta wants most of its narrow body growth to be with 180+ seat aircraft, rather than ~150 seat aircraft.

Delta 737
Delta has a huge Boeing 737 fleet

Why did it take Delta this long to order the 737 MAX?

In the fall of 2021, Bastian expressed surprise that Delta hadn’t yet reached a deal on 737 MAXs, so why hadn’t it happened? All we can do is speculate, but it sure seems to me like it came down to price.

Delta and Ryanair are both known to be looking for a deal when it comes to buying planes. Similar to Delta, Ryanair has been in negotiations with Boeing for quite a while over an additional 737 MAX order. In the fall of 2021 it was announced that negotiations between the two companies had been called off, as they weren’t able to reach a deal. As Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary described it:

“We are disappointed we couldn’t reach agreement with Boeing on a Max 10 order. However, Boeing have a more optimistic outlook on aircraft pricing than we do, and we have a disciplined track record of not paying high prices for aircraft.”

I’d guess that it has been a similar story at Delta, and that this has caused the delay with the order. I’m not surprised to see that a deal was ultimately reached, though:

  • With Boeing having issues getting the 737 MAX 10 certified, there’s a big question mark as to if & when this plane will be produced, so I imagine that Delta got an unbelievably good deal
  • Delta is partly placing this order for political reasons, since it looks good if the airline also buys Boeing jets, rather than just Airbus jets
  • Boeing really has to fight for Delta’s business (unlike Ryanair’s), given that the airline hadn’t ordered a new Boeing jet in about a decade
Ryanair hasn’t had the same luck as Delta with ordering 737 MAXs

Bottom line

Delta has placed an order for up to 130 Boeing 737 MAX 10s, including 100 firm orders and 30 options. Delta expects to start taking delivery of these planes in 2025. Of course that assumes that the 737 MAX 10 gets certified, and there’s still a big question mark around that.

What do you make of Delta’s Boeing 737 MAX order?

Conversations (26)
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  1. Bruce Guest

    French or German customers couldn't care less if their national airlines ordered from Boeing or Airbus, but US customers care. No, it isn't "just" patriotism. American nationalism is fervent, strong, widespread, dangerous, and in essence a civil religion. Delta should order from whoever they like and there should be no political repercussions.

    1. AndyMike New Member

      AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

    2. Sosongblue Guest

      Naw it’s just a little patriotism, not dangerous, nothing wrong with rooting for the home team….talk about hysterics! That being said I’d actually rather be in an airbus.

    3. Gay77Pilot Guest

      @Bruce

      Give me a break!

  2. STEFFL Member

    .... another US Airline to avoid when flying or book VERY careful when it comes to an itinerary and book flexible fares ;-)
    SOME just like to learn the HARD way . . . .?
    Must have been a hell of a DEAL, to not order A or A's family planes?
    . . . wonder if it's worth it loosing passengers . . . "by "loosing" you can understand that word in...

    .... another US Airline to avoid when flying or book VERY careful when it comes to an itinerary and book flexible fares ;-)
    SOME just like to learn the HARD way . . . .?
    Must have been a hell of a DEAL, to not order A or A's family planes?
    . . . wonder if it's worth it loosing passengers . . . "by "loosing" you can understand that word in any way YOU want!
    :-)

    BOEING

    . . . NO THANK YOU for me!
    Except 777 or maybe 747, older 737 . . . anything outside of that range, NO THANK YOU!

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      ""by "loosing" you can understand that word in any way YOU want!"

      While it's clear that you're not a native English speaker, I guess it's worth explaining that you meant to write "losing," because "loosing" has a completely irrelevant meaning to the topic of your convo. ;)

    2. John D Guest

      I highly doubt that Delta will be losing any passengers over having the MAX.

      Only a small number of passengers know what kind of plane they are flying and most of them are aviation foamers.

      Most people only care about who has the lowest fares.

  3. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Delta has just confirmed that it won maintenance overhaul rights for the LEAP engines which power the MAX. Delta has engine overhaul rights on every engine it has on order from Airbus so this is a big deal in putting Delta on similar footing w/ Airbus and Boeing.
    Only a handful of entities worldwide are allowed to service the LEAP engine and Delta is now one of those

  4. Kent Guest

    Similar news: Jet Airways on track to purchase 50 A220s.

    1. AnishReddi New Member

      Suprising they wouldn't go for the A320neo family or 737 max family as their higher capacity would be better suited for business routes metween metro cities which is their primary focus as a full service carrier

    2. Kent Guest

      I suspect they are not attempting to compete against the two major full service airlines, especially on the premium routes yet. Jet is intending for serving domestic routes with frequent fights. I guess the crew, service and operational costs are disproportionately bigger for the larger aircraft.

  5. George Romey Guest

    I would agree that with the pilot shortage and potentially higher fuel prices for the foreseeable future it makes sense to fly bigger planes with less frequency, particularly as the market has skewed more personal/leisure travel. Not to mention DL probably got a great deal on the planes. It seems as though the airlines like having both manufacturers so they can play off them both for pricing and terms.

    1. Jan Guest

      I agree, I also feel like this is something to let Airbus know that Boeing is still in play.

  6. Tom Guest

    These frequentl critical comments around Tim Dunn's perspectives are tiresome.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      the best way to deal with it is for OMAAT to start banning certain IP addresses and user names.

    2. Jan Guest

      It’s basically just one person @Never in Doubt and he’s gay for Tim Dunn, full stop.

  7. Hank Tarn Guest

    Good. About time they showed a bit of faith in American aircraft again. I fully quit using them when they retired the 747 and then the just refurbished and luxurious 777 retired before necessary in favour of Airbus a350 without the range, size or comfort was the last straw with Delta. But might start using them if they support America and return back to Boeing.

    1. XPL Diamond

      Boeing != America. In fact, Boeing has been a corrosive influence on what is good with America: capture of the ExIm Bank, regulatory capture of the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, multibillion-dollar tax breaks (read: theft of taxpayer funds) from Washington state, and most tragically regulatory capture of the FAA.

      My father was a proud Boeing lifer, but that was when the company was run by safety-first engineers. He'd be ashamed...

      Boeing != America. In fact, Boeing has been a corrosive influence on what is good with America: capture of the ExIm Bank, regulatory capture of the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, multibillion-dollar tax breaks (read: theft of taxpayer funds) from Washington state, and most tragically regulatory capture of the FAA.

      My father was a proud Boeing lifer, but that was when the company was run by safety-first engineers. He'd be ashamed of what that once proud company has become.

  8. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Delta is incrreasing the average gauge (number of seats per aircraft) so the MAX 10 is going to be a replacement for smaller aircraft, probably the A320s and B737-800s.
    The 717s are not going anywhere for now since they are essentially replacing regional jets which are much more costly to staff than mainlne aircraft per seat. The A220s are flying routes that are largely beyond the range of regionial jets or are in highly...

    Delta is incrreasing the average gauge (number of seats per aircraft) so the MAX 10 is going to be a replacement for smaller aircraft, probably the A320s and B737-800s.
    The 717s are not going anywhere for now since they are essentially replacing regional jets which are much more costly to staff than mainlne aircraft per seat. The A220s are flying routes that are largely beyond the range of regionial jets or are in highly competitive markets where the A220s product provides a product advantage.
    It is certain that Delta got a good deal if for no other reason that it will help Boeing try to get the plane certified without additional changes.

    The real interesting part of Delta's press release is that they MAX 10 will have 182 seats which is only 5 more than it has on the 737-900ER. Either they are going to add larger lavs or have larger pitch but that configuration is less than what the MAX 10 could support comparing DL's current 737 configurations to the difference in size between the various models in the MAX lineup.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Tim Dunn,

      Your career as OMAAT’s resident unpaid (?) Delta public relations agent is right on track.

      Congrats!

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "MAX 10 will have 182 seats which is only 5 more than it has on the 737-900ER."

      ...only 2 more. 180 in the 739ER: 20F, 21Y+, 139Y

  9. Steven Guest

    DL realizes that pilot shortage isnt ending anytime soon. Flying bigger planes with fewer frequencies will become the norm to solve pilot issues. DLs narrow body aircraft will come in 2 sizes for the future A220 (mostly -300) and A321/Max10 while 319/320/-800/-900er get phased out

  10. DLFlyer Guest

    Sounds like a new level in pax DIScomfort. DL's 739's are the most cramped, uncomfortable, planes in their fleet. I expect the sketchy new MAX's to be the same sardine config.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      did you notice that Delta is only going to put 5 more seats on the MAX10s than on their 737-900ERs?

      they are clearly planning to use the better economics to create more space onboard in part by having a higher percentage of seats in Comfort +

    2. FlyerDon Guest

      I agree with you. I flew a Delta 737-900, in first, two days ago and it was the most uncomfortable first class seat I’ve ever been in. When the nice man sitting in front of me fully reclined his seat I couldn’t cross my legs. Getting up to use the lav was an adventure and viewing the video screen was a challenge. I flew on an American 321neo a couple days before and the seat was a lot more comfortable.

  11. Sharon Guest

    I am somewhat Surprised by the seating count, only 182 seats? That’s only 2 more seats than delta’s 737-900ER

    For a -10 series that seems to be quite ‘few’ compared to the a321. For instance, Alaska is scheduled to install 189 seats on their 737-max10.

    Lucky, do you think these planes may replace some of delta’s a320’s? Though not size comparable, Delta may need to re arrange aircraft development upon the retirement of the 717 aircraft

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Tom Guest

These frequentl critical comments around Tim Dunn's perspectives are tiresome.

7
XPL Diamond

Boeing != America. In fact, Boeing has been a corrosive influence on what is good with America: capture of the ExIm Bank, regulatory capture of the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, multibillion-dollar tax breaks (read: theft of taxpayer funds) from Washington state, and most tragically regulatory capture of the FAA. My father was a proud Boeing lifer, but that was when the company was run by safety-first engineers. He'd be ashamed of what that once proud company has become.

5
Tim Dunn Diamond

Delta is incrreasing the average gauge (number of seats per aircraft) so the MAX 10 is going to be a replacement for smaller aircraft, probably the A320s and B737-800s. The 717s are not going anywhere for now since they are essentially replacing regional jets which are much more costly to staff than mainlne aircraft per seat. The A220s are flying routes that are largely beyond the range of regionial jets or are in highly competitive markets where the A220s product provides a product advantage. It is certain that Delta got a good deal if for no other reason that it will help Boeing try to get the plane certified without additional changes. The real interesting part of Delta's press release is that they MAX 10 will have 182 seats which is only 5 more than it has on the 737-900ER. Either they are going to add larger lavs or have larger pitch but that configuration is less than what the MAX 10 could support comparing DL's current 737 configurations to the difference in size between the various models in the MAX lineup.

4
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