On January 14, Boeing received an order for 23 787-8 Dreamliners from a single unidentified customer. A source close to the airframer tells FlightBlogger that the unidentified customer was Delta Air Lines. The source explained that the order was contingent on the announcement of a merger.
Coincidentally enough, according to Flight's ACAS database, the oldest members of Delta's widebody fleet happen to be 767-300s. How many 767-300s does Delta operate? You guessed it: 23.
Delta's 767-300s (non-extended range) have the highest number of average cycles in the widebody fleet at nearly 25,000 per aircraft. These aircraft are ripe for replacement, especially with oil well over $100 a barrel. Delta has never made any secret of its desire to replace its 767s with 787 aircraft.
Ed Bastian, President and CFO of Delta, commented during Tuesday's merger press conference that, "Our existing order books on the 777-LR and the 787, along with the new markets this combination will provide us opportunity to exercise options for up to 20 additional widebody jets between 2010 and 2013, creating a world of opportunity for our customers."
Northwest holds rights to 50 options on its 787 order that made it the North American launch customer for the type. Delta does not currently hold any options on its firm order for 8 777-200LRs. This suggests that if the merger goes through, the additional widebody options exercised would be exclusively from Northwest's 787s.