Delta to order 100 737-900ER to replace 757 fleet, delays order for next 100 aircraft (Update1)

Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-700 N301DQ

Delta Air Lines is expected to announce Tuesday it has purchased 100 737-900ER aircraft to replace is aging 757 fleet, reports Bloomberg News and Air Insight.
According to Air Insight, the carrier will take delivery of all 100 by the end of 2018. The order is a significant win for Boeing, which at one point was believed to not even have planned to bid for the Delta’s business after not being able to meet near-term delivery commitments.
The move blocks a further growth in Airbus’ North American market share following the purchase of 260 Airbus A320 and A320neo family aircraft by American Airlines on July 20. That order also included 200 737 family aircraft, including the 100 airframe tentative launch order for the re-engined 737-7, -8 and -9 family.
Delta, currently a split narrowbody operator, flies the 737-700 and -800 along side the A319 and A320s the airline inherited through its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines, the first North American operator of the type.
The Atlanta-based carrier said it planned to acquire a total of 200 new narrowbody aircraft, leaving 50% of the massive fleet renewal order undecided for the smaller end of its mainline fleet, pitting Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier’s CSeries against one another.
However, Airbus gained significant ground inside another Boeing stronghold – the Japanese market – with Qantas purchasing 110 A320 and A320neo family aircraft for its low-cost Jetstar to be based in Japan. 
UPDATE 12:46 PM ET: CONFIRMED – Delta will order 100 737-900ER aircraft, the largest single order for the type. Further, industry sources confirm that a selection of a smaller narrowbody that pitted the CSeries against the Embraer E-195 has been delayed, as the airline does not see the same level of urgency to replace its 757s starting in 2013. The airline’s aircraft evaluations excluded consideration of the re-engined narrowbodies from Airbus and Boeing. FULL STORY

34 Responses to Delta to order 100 737-900ER to replace 757 fleet, delays order for next 100 aircraft (Update1)

  1. iamlucky13 August 22, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Congrats Boeing, although I admit, I didn’t see that one coming.

    I figured with Boeing’s 737 future nearly set, the A321 NEO would have most of the 757 replacement market locked in. I guess the wait times have grown too long for some airlines, and wouldn’t be surprised if the deal allows an easy conversion to the 737-9 once that program is officially launched.

  2. Jason H August 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Good news for Boeing. However I will miss the power of the 757-200 on takeoff from DEN. The 737-700/800s flown by Alaska just don’t have the same raw, push you in your seat feel.

  3. Rob August 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    why the rush to get an older plane? Not even to consider new engine options seems shortsighted. Given the life of the planes being replaced, a few years wait does not seem much.

  4. "C"BERRY August 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm #


  5. booch221 August 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    “Further, industry sources confirm that a selection of a smaller narrowbody that pitted the CSeries against the Embraer E-195 has been delayed, as the airline does not see the same level of urgency to replace its 757s starting in 2013.”

    Poorly written sentence. May I suggest:

    “Industry sources confirm that a selection of a smaller narrowbody that pitted the CSeries against the Embraer E-195 has been delayed. The airline urgently wants to replace its 757s starting in 2013.

  6. Neil August 23, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Thanks “C”Berry for your thoughtful comments. Did the Boeing tour a couple of weeks ago, I guess just lucky to get through without being beaten up. By the way, all caps is considered rude, please take no offense. Spare us the official Tea Party analysis of current events. However, as a DAL retiree, you could provide some inisight into the purchase strategy, and how the -900 will fit in as a 757 replacement.

  7. T. Varadaraj August 23, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    Jason H.,
    Amen to that. I remember the rocket-like takeoffs in 757s from SFO when I used to live in the Bay Area. Closest thing to a Ferrari experience(at least for a Toyota owning guy like me, then).

  8. DaveJS August 23, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    @T. Varadaraj
    Toyota owning – “C”BERRY will have you clapped in irons!

  9. Karl August 23, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    @ Neil
    Thanks Neil for your response to “C”BERRY comment, one of the few that actually make a point without being overly rude or harsh. On that sense, is a little sad to read you mentioning something bad about the Tea Party. I’m from New York, probably one of the most liberal state in the nation. I’m not a “tea partier,” nor do I know any one that belongs to it. But why categorize them that way? What I do know is that it hurts (at least to me) when I go to the supermarket and I see some people buying gourmet Starbucks coffe and paying then with a “benefit card” when I (who belong to the people making above $40,000.00) can hardly buy whole wheat bread. I think that something is not right, right there and then.
    Sorry Jon for going “sooo” off topic on this comment, I just could not resist reading something like that and just keep reading.

    Now, to keep some relevance, I do watch 757s take off from La Guardia Airport from time to time and is a dandy seeing them just rocket down the short runway and into the sky almost fighter jet style. Very impressive.

  10. Jason H August 23, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    @Rob – There is an article on the Airline Business blog ( detailing how DL looks at the overall cost of ownership, not just the efficiency. Remember this is an airline buying MD-90s because they offer similar range and customer attributes but lower capital investment than a 737-800.

  11. iamlucky13 August 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    To add to Jason H’s reply to Rob, a few things that I can think of:

    1a.) Most importantly, Delta’s 757′s are going to start wearing out soon. They have limited discretion to wait.

    1b.) Delta wants all the aircraft delivered by 2018. Unless they negotiated some good delivery slot swaps, their place in line for NEO’s would start deliveries around 2018.

    1c.) Of course, the 737-9 could be a possibility, too, although getting 2016 deliveries is only slightly more attractive than 2018, and that plane is even less defined than the A320 NEO.

    1d.) Delays! Hopefully we won’t see them on either program, but it would be understandable if a major customer sees a risk of unpredictable timing for their fleet transition.

    2.) The routes they use them on will be important. Someone else here may be more familiar with Delta’s routes than me, but if they are going to be running mostly longer routes (coast-to-coast), the A321 NEO will no doubt have a substantial fuel savings. However, it weighs more and has to work harder to get to altitude, so for shorter routes, the fuel savings are smaller, or possibly even negative (don’t quote me on that).

    3.) The difference in price is not trivial. Although list prices mean close to nothing because of the negotiated discounts, the A321 is listed at $14 million more than the 737-900ER (some of that is probably due to currency differences), and the NEO option is an extra $6.2 million.

  12. James P. Hester August 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Well, isn’t that very nice! I thought they were “bancrupt”! Perhaps, they should “make good” to their stockholders that they stiffed thru “bancruptcy” before they start ordering new aircraft!!! Right is right. As a Delta retiree, my purchased stock is worthless! My forced early retirement offer of free health insurance for me and my spouse is gone! My pension has been cut almost in half by a “social security offset” scam! What has been done to loyal retirees is a crime, but they are out buying new planes! Isn’t that nice? JPH

  13. Smokerr August 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Like most I would like to see more logic of the -900 choice. Also why A320 series not chosen (NEO or not). And I would appreciate the ranting to stay off the page.

    Its obvious despite the way things written, that a -900 is more a 757 replacement than MDs etc.

    As Jon stated previously, once you cut fuel burn 20% (old 737 vs new for example), then the next 20% if for far less. Its factor, but cost wise its impact is no longer 20%, its like actual 5% improvement.

    Get you max now rather than latter. The 737NE would slot in fine.

    A320s (NEO or not) slots are taken for the next 8 years. Still Airbus would negotiate out of some deals to make this one happen, so…….

    It would be good information to know what all drove this. Is the NEO thing maxed out and reality of it not being all that amazing setting in (good for Boeing) or is this a fluke and Boeing loses more Qantas deals (and what drove that?)

  14. Smokerr August 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    From the Air Insight Article

    “Delta Air Lines will announce an order for 100 Boeing 737-900s tomorrow, according to several sources. Delta has been examining two potential procurements, one to replace 757s, and another to replace DC-9s. This announcement is the first of the two competitions to be decided.

    Deliveries for the 737-900s will be in the near-term, with all deliveries completed by 2018. As a result, Boeing did not offer its NE737, and Airbus was forced to offer a mixture of A321 and A321neo in the competition. We understand that Boeing won the competition on two factors — price and the availability of early delivery positions, which is more difficult for Airbus, which would have needed to juggle delivery positions to accommodate Delta’s needs.”

  15. Paulo M August 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Does that begin to build pressure on production rates? – According to Air Insight, the carrier will take delivery of all 100 by the end of 2018

    Out of the blue no bid, win a 100 planes – big up to them!

  16. James August 24, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    I am not a pilot, just an enthusiasitc passenger and as per Jason H et al. I too will miss the 757. I dont think there will be another commercial airline with quite the power to weight of the 757. If there are any former pilots reading please let me know what it was like to fly. I was very sad when British Airways removed their fleet and its sad Delta will be doing so too. Hopefully American will keep their winglet upgrades in for a bit longer. And for those of us who just love the aircraft you can always YouTube some spectacular footage of an Iceland Air RR powered 757 literally jumping off the runway.

  17. Smokerr August 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Just read where Qantas is “deferring delivery of 6 A380 for 6 years”.

    That begins to make sense. They drop the last 6 of the A380s and replace them with A320s (some normal and some NEO). Normal probably fills in that gap between the straight and NEO which Airbus needs filled.

    Qantas is making major moves, not viable as it sits, who knows if it will be jumping into a very crowded Asia market (which is the direction they are going.

    As it has A320s and a “deal” with Airbus its not a knock on the 737, its what works for what they have on order and commitments.

  18. Prophead August 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I’ll miss 757 too. Worked design on her in 1980-1982. She has a big wing, lots of horsepower for the weight, great legs (range) and is real clean on drag. A NWA 757 captain told me a long time ago that the 757 ceiling was set by how quickly the aircraft got to critical speed in a decompression dive. Not sure if that’s true or not, but when it flies overhead with speedbrakes deployed it sounds like a heavy.

    Inside – not so good. A long single aisle.

  19. bruce August 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    I can easily see Qantas deferring A380s, perhaps even declining delivery forever. Remember, they still have that one sitting in Singapore, awaiting some sort of conclusion as to either trash it or replace the entire left wing! They are not too happy with the A380, it being way overweight and not as efficient as promised. One funny thing, I see that an asphalt roller has to flatten the asphalt taxiways after an A380 has gone by, the nonsteering (steering removed as a weight saving) center body gear tearing the pavement up.

    It’s a shame Boeing didn’t come up with a 757NG as they did with the 737, since no airplane really replaces the payload/range/economy capabilities.

  20. alex August 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Bruce, I don’t know where you dream up such information.

    The QA bird in Singapore is currently being repaired. Certainly no trash, and it doesn’t require a new wing either. Further, kindly provide a source on their “unhappiness” with the aircraft. Not as efficient as promised? A little odd, considering the aircraft actually beat specs.

    Finally, where, pray tell, are they using asphalt rollers after an A380 taxis by.

  21. DaveJS August 25, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    Bruce, maybe you should read the Aviation Week article dated 16th August entitled “Qantas Looks To Asia With Big A320 Order”. You will maybe then understand the rational behind their A380 deferral. It has everything to do with route restructuring and B747-400 retirement and nothing to do with “unhappiness” with the A380. However, there is a note of caution regarding 787 orders, if you care to read between the lines.

  22. bruce August 25, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    Airplane rep from Singapore just told me this information about the Qantas A380. He said that very little of the left wing can be salvaged. He also heard from contacts with Qantas and SIA that many are displeased with the performance of the airplane.

    Saw the pictures, of the torn up taxiway asphalt behind the wheels of the A380, sent from Singapore after the first A380s landed there. The pictures were on the web. A pavement roller is used to repair such damage, and the airplane has to take very wide turns.

  23. Dinant van den Belt August 25, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    Why is this order not finalized?

  24. alex August 25, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    “very little of the left wing can be salvaged”, lol… whatever you say. Funny thing, an “airplane rep” from Singapore just told me you’re full of it.

  25. Christopher Dye August 25, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    I see a three way deal: SWA’s 717s to DL (B holds the leases on 80) to replace DC9/md80s, SWA gets rid of a plane it does not want, B sells lots of 737s to SWA at a great price to replace not only its 733/5s but also it’s 86 717s, and DL taking 739s as part of the deal to take the 717s. For DL the 717s will amount to the second half of their 200 plane RFP, hence their deferral. Big loser in BB because they have lost two big C Seies mkt (DL and SWA)s, also Airbus because they are shut out of the second, 100-plane batch. That’ my theory anyhow.

  26. bruce August 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Lol, quite familiar with the Av Week article, been reading Av Week since just after WWII. Service contact in Singapore said that in inside discussions with both airlines (who dislike each other), there were many who admitted displeasure with the performance of the airplane, in flight and on the ground.

    Qantas is entering a very competitive market with this venture, a very questionable decision considering their financial health. Delta had no choice in ordering (now confirmed) 737s in order to get any new airplanes in the near future, compared to the status of the A320 production schedule.

  27. bruce August 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    “Funny thing, an “airplane rep” from Singapore just told me you’re full of it”.

    Funny, Field Service Rep in Singapore, who has seen the airplane, told me the opposite. Said the damage/penetrations in the wing was extensive, and pointed out that among other things, the engine control systems as designed were easily knocked out, thus taking 40+ minutes to shut the runaway engine off by foaming it to death. It was concluded Qantas came soooo close to losing the airplane in flight.

    Who to believe? Not my problem.

    BTW, the pictures of the nonsteering center landing gear tearing up the asphalt were remarkable. Should still be available on the web somewhere.

    With the Delta order, and others to come, will Boeing start up a new 737 line somewhere in order to match the Airbus production rate? They almost didn’t bid on this one because of lower production rate and late delivery dates.

  28. bruce August 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    To quote a Sydney news article:

    “As the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine blew apart over Batam Island, Indonesia, minutes after take-off, fragments ripped though parts of the wing, puncturing fuel, hydraulic and electronic systems and leaving the plane with limited flight controls, the ATSB said in a report”. The crew was instrumental in bringing the craft back to Singapore safely.

    “In fact, the plane may have been so badly damaged that the five pilots, with a combined 72,000 hours of flying experience, may have saved the day”.

    The aircraft was leaking fuel at a fast rate. This was almost a Concorde style disaster.

  29. DaveJS August 26, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    Bruce, re A380 performance, a quote from one of Jon’s 2009 articles:-

    “We’re busting our seams on the A380, this aeroplane is a peach,” says Emirates Airline president Tim Clark, who adds that performance has beaten the manufacturer’s guarantees. “The faster the A380 flies the less fuel it burns,” he adds.
    This is echoed by Qantas group executive operations Lyell Strambi who says the aircraft has “met or exceeded” all the guarantees.”

    Two years down the road I doubt that performance has got any worse although I would hope that most of the minor technical issues cited have been solved!

    I can’t find any of your tarmac damage photos on the web – please post a link.

  30. Karl August 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    They had the pictures here
    I don’t know if they are still there though.

  31. Anon August 27, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Karl, Bruce — those photos were from a test in Toulouse on June 25th, 2005. The A380′s body-steering gear system was deactivated for the test, and the turns were conducted at beyond-maximum nose steering angle.

    NB — Normally, the A380 does not turn beyond 60 degrees — and of course WITH the body steering active. However, in this test (described in PPrune) the angle went up to 72 degrees AND with the body-steering deactivated. Of course, the A380 passed that test. Anyway, I’ve personally stood only a few yards away from the main gear during a similar A380 test — in Frankfurt. Lots of rubber scrubbing, but no damage to either the asphalt or the aircraft.

    For the full account, go to the last post, on the last page of that PPrune thread.

    Also, pls note that the A380′s pavement loading is LOWER than a B777-300ERs.

  32. Smokerr August 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Funny that when the A380 hit the airway, there were a chorus of complaints that it could carry NO cargo. Space all taken up by pax luggage. They all wanted the -900.

    And the faster it flies the less fuel it burns! What a crock. When BS starts flying you know there is a problem.

    It may work for Emirates and Singapore, but its not flexible. Not a good combo in today’s world.

    I would guess Qantas needs no more than what they are committed to and those 6 will never be taken.

    And regardless of the repair for the one in Singapore, its still not fling is it?

  33. Jeff August 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    I’m surprised that I haven’t seen mention anywhere that according to the orders history on Boeing’s web site, this Delta order takes total lifetime orders for the 737 to over 9,000.

  34. Anon August 30, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    You wrote: ‘And the faster it flies the less fuel it burns! What a crock. When BS starts flying you know there is a problem.’

    Actually it’s not BS. The A380 burns less fuel per pax-mile at Mach 0.85 (long range cruise) than it would at Mach 0.8