Delta regional jet decision due by December

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Delta Air Lines will decide between Bombardier or Embraer regional jets for its fleet restructuring by the end of the year, executives say.

The Atlanta-based airline will order 70 76-seat regional jets - either the Bombardier CRJ900 or Embraer 175 - to partially replace about 218 50-seat jets that will begin to exit its regional fleet next year.

Deliveries of the aircraft would likely begin within 16 months of the order being placed, executives say during an earnings call today.

They anticipate that a decision on which regional carriers will operate the aircraft will be made at the same time as the type.

Embraer is offering Delta a "Plus" version of its E-175 jet that improves fuel efficiency by 5% compared to the baseline aircraft, according to Cai Von Rumohr, aerospace analyst for Cowen and Co.

Bombardier says that it offers a very competitive solution to Delta's aircraft needs.

"The domestic fleet restructuring will fundamentally change our cost dynamic," says Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta, during the call.

Delta will also lease 88 Boeing 717-200s from Southwest Airlines as part of the restructuring.