Delta In 737 MAX Discussions With Boeing

Delta Air Lines is in discussions with Boeing regarding the 737 MAX, according to the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian. Bastian made the comments to the Financial Times, following the previous speculation that Boeing had approached the US carrier regarding white tail 737 MAX aircraft.

Delta Air Lines, Boeing 737 MAX, Ed Bastian
Delta Air Lines is in discussions with Boeing over the now ungrounded 737 MAX. Photo: Getty Images

Last week the Federal Aviation Administration reversed its grounding of the 737 MAX. This means that the aircraft can finally fly again, but the ruling only applies to n-registered aircraft and US carriers. This also means that deliveries can continue. However, some of those aircraft that were built by Boeing since the grounding now have no attached order.

Delta in Boeing discussions

Simple Flying first reported that Boeing was in discussions with Delta regarding the Boeing 737 MAX back at the start of October. At the time, both Boeing and Delta declined the opportunity to comment. However, it seems that there was some truth to the speculation.

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In an article posted on the Financial Times yesterday, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian was quoted as saying,

“We’re talking to Boeing about lots of different things, the MAX included… If there is an opportunity where we would feel comfortable acquiring the MAX we’d have no hesitation doing that.”

Boeing 737 MAX, Booking, Differences
Delta is the only one of the US big three without the aircraft type. Photo: Getty Images

A win for Boeing?

Delta is the only airline from the big three full-service carriers in the US without a Boeing 737 MAX order. Both American Airlines and United Airlines operate the type, alongside LCC Southwest and Alaska Airlines. While Southwest is unsure about the aircraft’s return timeline, American Airlines is gearing up to fly the aircraft in just over a month.

Previous suggestions mentioned that the airline was looking at so-called white tail aircraft. This is an aircraft that has been built but has no airline to go to. These always pop up from time to time, for example, when an airline goes out of business before the aircraft’s delivery.

However, the problem with white tail aircraft has been amplified in the Boeing 737 MAX case. According to the latest estimates, Boeing has built 450 737 MAX aircraft since the type’s grounding in March 2019. Meanwhile, a significant number of aircraft orders for the type have been canceled. It is thought that as much as a quarter of the aircraft that have already been built are white tails.

Buzz Livery, Boeing 737 MAX 200, Ryanair
So far, the 737 MAX’s grounding has only been lifted in the United States. Photo: Getty Images

While it was reported that Southwest could take some white tail 737 MAX aircraft, this would likely be in the place of so far unbuilt airframes. With no outstanding order from Delta, such an order would only come as a win for Boeing. It would be able to shift some of its white tail pool without sacrificing later aircraft deliveries.

Should Delta Air Lines take the Boeing 737 MAX? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!