Delta describes 737-900ERs as bridge aircraft, cites long-term aircraft needs

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Delta Air Lines is acknowledging it has longer-term fleet needs beyond the 100 Boeing 737-900ERs on its orderbook scheduled for delivery beginning in 2013.

"We were looking through the decision to go with the 737-900ER for a bridge aircraft," said Delta president Ed Bastian during the carrier's annual investor day. "That is why the size of the order was for 100 aircraft. Obviously we have longer-term needs in the narrowbody category that we're going to address."

Bastian explained that given Delta will take delivery of the bulk of the -900ERs before either the A320neo or 737 Max enters production, "we'll have another opportunity to look at that [narrowbody options]. It [the order] wasn't a comment on engine technology. It was trying to fill a gap in the 2013-2016 timeframe".

He stated that Delta has "the opportunity to go with the Max with our order for Boeing if the Max shows up during that timeframe, but that wasn't a key part of the decision framework".

Southwest is the formal launch customer for the 737 Max, and deliveries of the 150 aircraft the carrier ordered are scheduled to begin in 2017.