Carrier Continues its Post-Bankruptcy Rebuild
Apparently making up for lost time while in bankruptcy, Delta
Air Lines is flexing its financial muscle by contemplating an order
of as many as 125 Boeing 787 Dreamliners by the end of 2007.
Such an order would be valued at an estimated $20 billion at
current list prices. The carrier has not decided just how many
aircraft it will need to fulfill its international ambitions, but
should soon as it weighs issues such as maintenance and operational
costs, according to the Wall Street Journal. The number of planes
the company decides upon will likely include firm orders as well as
options to buy.
Jim Whitehurst, Delta's chief operating officer, said the
Atlanta-based carrier is considering, "a massive order over a long
period of time" and carrier executives are expecting the 787 to
replace 104 of the Boeing 767s in the current Delta fleet.
An order as large as Delta is contemplating would be the largest
order yet for the 787 from a US airline. Boeing says its strong
seller is sold out till nearly 2015 for new customers, but those
such as Delta that have options from previous years should be able
to get a few much earlier, said the Journal.
But, Boeing shouldn't count its chickens just yet. The carrier
is also in talks with Airbus about its huge order, according to a
spokesperson, although Airbus is not currently part of its
"Delta will be looking at options to modernize our fleet over
the long term -- including both Boeing and Airbus -- but have made
no firm plans at this time," she said.
Whitehurst said the carrier must "make significant expenditures
on systems that we frankly starved for the last several years"
while the company was reorganizing under bankruptcy.
Delta has plans to also spend about $1.2 billion a year through
2010 on such things as aircraft refurbishments, new
baggage-handling equipment, updated computer systems and airport
improvements in addition to new aircraft.
As part of its improvement track, the carrier announced Tuesday
it was installing blended winglets on more than 60 Boeing 737-NG,
757-200 and 767-300ER aircraft types to provide greater flexibility
to serve more markets with existing aircraft.
"Blended Winglets create an opportunity for us to improve both
our operating and fuel efficiency simultaneously," said Whitehurst.
"We expect to see a minimum of 3.5 percent improvements in our fuel
consumption and a minimum of 5 percent in our range thanks to this
added technology. Our customers will benefit from Delta's ability
to offer more destinations, and Delta benefits from new
efficiencies that will improve our operations and better the
The project is expected to cost about $50 million.