A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, United States on June 29, 2020.
Karen Ducey | Reuters
Boeing The company is moving forward with a landmark order from Delta Airlines up to 100 of the airline’s 737 MAX 10s, a model the airline is fighting in private negotiations to get approval before the rules change later in the year, people familiar with the matter said. .
The deal, if confirmed, would be Delta’s first order for Boeing’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft and Boeing’s first major order for the airline in a decade.
It comes with the name Delta – the only major US airline without a 737 MAX on order – reshaping its fleet in anticipation of a speedy recovery from the pandemic.
Boeing and Delta, which have had a rocky relationship over the years, are working on details of an order that could include 100 planes, many or all of which could involve the largest variant, the 737 MAX 10 , two people said.
If an agreement is reached, an announcement could come as soon as next month, one of them added.
Boeing and Delta declined to comment.
Industry sources warn that talks often go downhill and no final decision is made. There has been much speculation about a MAX order from Delta in the past with no deal coming to fruition.
The MAX 10 competes with Airbus’ best-selling model, the A321neo. Both aircraft are aimed at the fast-growing segment of the market with just over 200 seats.
The A321neo, which leasing company Air Lease described Wednesday as “the hottest aircraft on the market,” leads the way in sales, but Boeing has won a string of contracts over the past year.
Airbus also declined to comment.
In September, Airline Weekly quoted Delta CEO Ed Bastian as saying that there is a place for the MAX at Delta if the airline can figure out how to bring them in.
When asked about the MAX in London earlier this month, he told reporters Delta always looks at all models.
For Boeing, which is struggling with broader certification and industry issues, the deal will solidify a major new customer for the airline’s cash-shrink plane.
The plane maker is facing a separate but growing battle to win MAX 10 certification before a new safety standard for cockpit warnings goes into effect later in the year.
The changed deadline was introduced as part of broader regulatory reform at the Federal Aviation Administration following the fatal crashes of a smaller MAX model in 2018 and 2019.
Boeing has been in talks with some lawmakers about the possibility of requesting more time, but has not formally sought an extension to resolve the flight deck issue, the people said.
When asked about this possibility, an FAA spokesperson said, “safety dictates the timing of certification projects.”
Only Congress can extend the deadline if the FAA does not certify the MAX by the end of the year.
Boeing has raised with some lawmakers the potential impact on jobs and production if the 737 MAX 10 is not approved, the people said.
“We continue to work transparently with the FAA to provide the information they need, and we are committed to meeting their expectations to achieve 737-10 certification,” Boeing said in an emailed statement.
It did not comment directly on any talks with lawmakers but said the jet would support “tens of thousands of jobs at Boeing and across our entire supply chain, including in Washington state.”
The matter could also get entangled in subsequent FAA administrator confirmation hearings. Current FAA administrator Steve Dickson will step down on March 31.
The Seattle Times this month cited an earlier submission by Boeing to the FAA citing the estimated cost of full compliance for the MAX as “more than $10 billion.”