COVID aircraft pricing helps Delta fleet renewal

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July 14, 2021
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Delta Air Lines has inked agreements to add 29 used Boeing 737-900ERs and lease seven used Airbus A350-900s as part of a COVID-boosted fleet renewal push.

Delta will lease the A350s through AerCap and purchase 27 of the 737-900ERs from funds managed by Castlelake, L.P.

The remaining  737-900ERs will be financed from funds also managed by Castlelake, although both transactions are subject to closing conditions.

READ: Boeing confirms new 787 concerns will cut production.

Delta expects deliveries of the aircraft to be completed by the first quarter of 2022 and says they will enter service once modifications are complete.

The airline says the additional aircraft will improve fuel efficiency and the customer experience.

“These aircraft are an investment in Delta’s future,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

“As we look past the pandemic, Delta’s disciplined, innovative approach to fleet renewal positions us for growth as travel demand returns, while enhancing the customer experience and supporting our sustainability commitments.”

The US carrier has already taken advantage of attractive pandemic aircraft pricing to simplify its fleet, accelerating the retirement of 18 older and less efficient widebody 777s as well as its MD-88 and MD-90 narrowbody fleets.

It sees widebody fleet renewal as instrumental to recovery, sustained profitability and future growth.

The A350 is now its flagship aircraft, a move the airline says provides a world-class customer experience, enhances cargo capacity, reduces unit costs and contributes to a more sustainable future.

The next-generation A350s burn 21 percent less fuel per seat than the 777s they replace and contribute the airline’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions .

In addition to the seven A350s in the new agreement, Delta currently has 15 A359s in service and 20 on order. The addition of the 29 737-900ERs will bring the total to 159 in its fleet.

Delta also decided in April to exercise options on 25 additional Airbus A321neos.