Delta Eyes Northwest’s 787 options: Order already placed?

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.

Image Credit Oso Blanco

4 Responses to Delta Eyes Northwest’s 787 options: Order already placed?

  1. Felix Machaca April 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm #

    I think you are a litle off on your designations. Delta currently has 21 non ER 767 300s. If these were to be replaced the 787-3 would be far more suitable as the 763 currently flies domestic missions. The 767-300 ER aircraft total 59 frames, which is far more than this order covers.

  2. Jon Ostrower/Flightblogger April 18, 2008 at 1:10 pm #


    I see what you’re saying here. My thinking is that:

    -788s allow 763s to be retired.
    -763ERs take over the 763 routes.
    -788s, open new routes or take the long haul routes of 763ER
    -783 doesn’t have the range to replace the 763 outright, not to mention the time line for development is very much an open question.

    On a side note, your thinking rightly underscores the need for Boeing to develop a mid-range 787 that is able to fly efficiently on routes that might be too short for a -8. It would be a suitable replacement for both the A300, 762, 763 or even at the lower end the 752. Boeing is going to have a big gap between the 737-900ER and the 787-8 when the 767 line closes, especially if the -3 doesn’t materialize.


  3. Chris Wallace April 18, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    James Wallace of the Seattle Post Intelligencer noted at the time it was from an existing 787 customer, but NW is both an existing customer and they have 50 options. So perhaps they exercised 23 on the behest of DL to prepare for the merger since NW’s delivery positions on option conversions could very well be better then DL’s if they ordered new.

  4. Frederick Kuffner April 20, 2008 at 7:46 am #

    Sorry to ask and its maybe off-topic but i was wondering which software or programm was used to create this image with the delta 787. Any help is very much appreciated because i bought myself some time age FS2004 and the additional package 787 but couldnt figure out how to design a different paint-style on the airplane.
    Thanks in advance,
    Regards, Frederick Kuffner