Delta Air Lines agrees to buy 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets, making it the latest major US carrier to operate the airliner
The 100 planes are worth $13.5 billion at list prices before customary discounts, and Delta’s deal includes options for 30 more.
The order for the 737 MAX 10, Boeing’s latest and longest variant of the 737 MAX family of jet, comes despite the variant not yet having won regulatory approval. If Boeing can’t get the MAX 10 certified by the end of the year, current law requires it to upgrade its cockpit systems—a requirement that would likely add months to its development before winning certification. Boeing has said it would seek an extension if needed.
The aircraft’s cockpit design, common with earlier 737 models, was a selling point for the jet, Delta senior vice president, Mahendra Nair, said Monday. That means it wouldn’t require more training for pilots. It also comes with greater fuel efficiency.
The deal requires Boeing to win regulatory approval for the jet. If Boeing has to upgrade the plane’s cockpit systems, Mr. Nair said, “Then we will have to rethink about where we are.”
Boeing has trailed Airbus in orders in recent years, in large part because of the 737 MAX grounding. The accidents claimed 346 lives. Since then, Boeing has added various safeguards to a flight-control system blamed for the accidents and revamped pilot training.
Delta, which is based in Atlanta, last ordered Boeing jets in 2017, according to Boeing’s website. Mr. Nair said Delta would configure nearly a third of the MAX 10 cabins for premium seating and operate the planes from its largest hubs, including New York City and Minneapolis. The airplanes can seat up to 204 passengers.
The future of the MAX 10 has come into doubt after Chief Executive David Calhoun told a trade publication recently that the manufacturer might have to consider scrapping the new plane if Congress didn’t extend the deadline requiring an update to the plane’s cockpit systems. On Sunday, Boeing commercial airplanes chief, Stan Deal, said the company wasn’t likely to cancel the plane. Delta’s Mr. Nair on Monday said he wasn’t concerned by Mr. Calhoun’s comments but said they had options. Boeing offers smaller versions of the MAX, such as the MAX 9.
“This is really the airplane that we would want,” he said. “But we do have the flexibility.”
Write to Andrew Tangel at [email protected]
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