Manila Bulletin

Delta said to favor Airbus over Boeing for order of 100 jets


Delta Air Lines, Inc. is leaning toward Airbus SE over Boeing Co. for an order of about 100 single-aisle jets that will be announced after the carrier’s board makes a decision Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said.

The negotiatio­ns include Airbus’s longest single-aisle jet, the A321neo, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. A deal, which could be valued at about $13 billion at list prices, would mark a victory for the European planemaker over Boeing’s newest 737, the Max 10.

Delta and Boeing are on opposite sides of a trade dispute after the Chicago-based manufactur­er persuaded the US Commerce Department to slap 300 percent duties on a new Canadian plane made by Bombardier, Inc. Boeing contends the C Series jetliner was sold to the Atlanta-based carrier at well below cost.

Airbus, Boeing and Delta declined to comment. CNN reported earlier that Delta was set to place the order with Airbus.

The new Airbus jets will replace Delta’s 1990s-vintage McDonnell Douglas MD-90 jets, as well as aging Boeing 757 and Airbus A320 aircraft. Delta is expected to use them mainly for flights in the US and on shorter internatio­nal routes. Delta has the oldest fleet among the biggest three US carriers, with an average age of 17 years among its 847 mainline planes. American Airlines Group, Inc. averages slightly more than 10 years and United Continenta­l Holdings, Inc.’s average aircraft is 14 years old.

Delta plans to use Pratt & Whitney engines to power the new planes, according to one of the people. Buyers of A320neo family aircraft can choose between the geared turbofan engine, made by United Technologi­es Corp.’s Pratt unit, or the Leap, a new power plant built by the CFM Internatio­nal joint venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA. A spokesman for Pratt declined to comment.

The new order continues Airbus’ success with Delta, which in the past has favored Boeing planes. The carrier’s biggest order in recent years was for 50 Airbus wide-body jets in late 2014, with a value of $14 billion at list prices. Since then, it has purchased more than 70 of Airbus’s less expensive A321 narrow-body aircraft in three separate transactio­ns.

Delta’s last major Boeing order was for 100 737-900ER jets in 2011, although it has placed add-on orders for more 737s since then.

The carrier’s decision to go with Airbus will reinforce doubts about its willingnes­s to purchase from Boeing going forward. Boeing’s trade case could delay delivery of 75 Bombardier CS100 jets to Delta or even scuttle the deal altogether. Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in mid-October that the spat wouldn’t affect its decision on the narrow-body jet order and that Boeing “has every opportunit­y” to win. (Bloomberg)

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