Delta Air Lines is looking at both the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 Max for an upcoming narrowbody order.
"We're in the middle of a RFP process to look at additional [narrowbody] aircraft," says Gil West, chief operating officer of the Atlanta-based carrier, at a media event in Atlanta today.
Delta will use the aircraft from the order to replace older narrowbodies as they retire from its mainline fleet, he says. He declines to comment on which types it plans to replace.
The airline plans to remove the 113 Boeing MD-88s in its fleet by 2020. It will replace the aircraft with larger Airbus A321s and Boeing 737-900ERs.
The MD-88s are the oldest narrowbodies in Delta's mainline fleet with an average age of 27.2 years, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. The next oldest are its 65 A320s and 113 Boeing 757-200s that both have an average age of 22.3 years.
Both Airbus and Boeing offer direct replacements for the A320 – the A320neo and 737 Max 8 respectively – and Airbus offers the A321LR as a replacement for some of the long-haul 757s.
Boeing is developing a New Mid-market Airplane (NMA) that would carry 220-270 passengers up to 5,000nm. The aircraft, if launched, would replace long-haul 757s and fit between the 737 Max 10 and Boeing 787-8 in the airframer's line.
"We'll look at both aircraft on their merits and ultimately make a decision accordingly," says West when asked whether Airbus' investment in the Bombardier CSeries programme could impact Delta's view of either airframer.
He declines to comment on a timeline for the order.
Delta is the only major US carrier without an order for the latest generation Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies. American Airlines has orders for both the A321neo and 737-8, and United Airlines for the 737-9 and -10.
Southwest Airlines was the launch customer for the 737-8.
Delta has narrowbody orders for 95 A321s, 36 737-900ERs and 75 Bombardier CS100s, Fleets Analyzer shows.