Combining the fleet of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines has diminished the need for replacements previously planned by Northwest, which could result in fewer Boeing 787s for the combined carrier than originally envisaged.

Northwest is the US launch customer for the 787, with firm orders for 18 aircraft. Delta and Northwest officially merged in October, and the combined carrier's executive vice-president network planning and revenue management Glen Hauenstein says it does not now need as many aircraft to replace older Northwest Boeing 747-400s.

Hauenstein believes the 777s Delta has in its fleet "offset the requirements" of the 777 versus the 787. But he also stresses Delta that has not expressed its full intent for the 787.

Delta chief executive Richard Anderson says the carrier is unsure of "where the 787 is in terms of deliveries" and the carrier does not "have the capital for that in the three-year plan".

In broader comments Anderson stresses Delta is building discipline around capital noting the industry "historically places massive orders for airplanes", while not fully understanding the economics of a given aircraft. "We're not going to do that," says Anderson. "We're going to fully use what we have."

Source: Flight International