Delta will add 36 aircraft to fleet as it takes a different tack from United

Jul 13, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday that it would add 36 new aircraft to its fleet. The airline will purchase 29 used Boeing 737-900ERs, while leasing seven used Airbus A350-900s.

The move comes as Delta seeks to expand its fleet after retiring older narrow-body and larger wide-body planes during the pandemic as demand collapsed.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

Delta said in a press release that the A350s will replace the Boeing 777s that the airline retired during the pandemic. Even with the slowdown in travel demand, the 777 retirement came as a surprise to many industry observers — Delta had only just finished retrofitting the aircraft with its newest on-board product. The A350 has a lower capacity than the 777-200 and -200LR jets it replaces, but can achieve a similar range to the long-range variant of the Boeing jet.

The Boeing 737-900ERs will “complement Delta’s existing fleet,” the airline said. The -900ER variant allows airlines to carry more passengers with only marginal cost increases compared to smaller narrow-body planes.

Delta’s announcement stands in remarkable contrast to one from United earlier this month, during with the Chicago-based carrier announced a record order for 270 next-generation aircraft, including 200 Boeing 737 MAX and 70 Airbus A321neo jets.

The airline is likely getting a phenomenal deal, however, given the influx of used aircraft to the market as travel collapsed globally in 2020. Further, competition by carriers for aircraft orders has cratered as the pandemic continues to rage in many parts of the world.

The A350s were returned to lessors by LATAM, according to a report by The Air Current in late-June, while the 737-900ERs come from Malaysia-based Lion Air, which parked the aircraft amid the downturn.

Notably, it’s not the first time that Delta has acquired A350-900s from LATAM. The Atlanta-based carrier bought four from the South American airline in 2019, and assumed 10 of the airline’s future deliveries.

More: United’s big order reveals two major insights about the airline and the aviation industry

Despite the differences in the acquisition strategy, both airlines are similarly expanding their fleets and fine-tuning their post-pandemic strategies while taking advantage of a soft market for new and used aircraft.

The announcement comes a day before Delta is scheduled to disclose its second-quarter financial performance and discuss future plans with investors.

Featured image by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.