Delta – 737-10 Blockbuster Order Imminent?

By Spyros Georgilidakis | March 20, 2022

Delta has been weighing a 737 MAX order for some time now, and sources say it is on the verge of ordering up to 100 737-10 single-aisle jets.

Delta – 737-10 Blockbuster Order Imminent?

At first glance, Delta Air Lines’ fleet doesn’t reveal anything unusual. The airline has the usual mix of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, of different sizes. Some of its Boeings are rather old – but so are some of its Airbuses. When it comes to single-aisles, Delta still has 61 717s, which it intends to keep until 2025. Then there are some old A320s, younger 737s and very, very young A321s.

The airline’s current 737 of choice is the 737-900ER, with 159 jets. The 737-800 is a distant second, with 77 aircraft. A Delta order for the 737-10 wouldn’t necessarily replace its -900ERs, however. These planes are just over six years old, on average. But what these numbers don’t reveal is that Delta and Boeing haven’t seen eye to eye in the past few years. A lot of this has to do with Delta’s order for the Bombardier CS100 and CS300 – now called Airbus A220-100/300.

Delta’s first A220-100. Photo: Delta News Hub, CC BY 2.0

This may help explain something that’s missing from the airline’s current fleet: a 737 MAX. Delta is the only main-line US carrier, without a MAX order – something the 737-10 may be about to change. Reuters reports that Boeing and Delta are getting close to a deal for 100 aircraft. The order could also include the smaller variants, but sources suggest this is mainly about the MAX-10.


What Will Delta Replace With the 737-10?

We last saw reports on a possible Delta order for the type last September. There were even suggestions of such an order back in December 2020, shortly after the type’s ungrounding. But it seems that the airline is taking its time. Delta did retire several types during the pandemic, including the 777-200ER and 777-200LR.

Delta – 737-10 Blockbuster Order Imminent?

Among single aisles, Delta retired some 737-700s, which the A220-300 has since replaced. The airline also retired the MD-88 and MD-90, which it originally intended to keep until the middle of the decade. However, it has 100 757-200s, and this is where the 737-10 could come in. The airline also has a large order for A321neos, more than the A321ceos it currently has. But these existing A321s are its youngest type, so they’re not going anywhere for a while.

The 757s are 25 years old. Delta, therefore, looks set to use the A320neo and 737-10 to replace its 757-200s. Given their longer range, some A320neos might even replace its oldest 767s, on some long, skinny routes. There is no word on Delta’s A321neo order including any A321XLRs. But the airline still has 70 options for the jets, with Airbus. However, it will be interesting to compare the delivery dates that Boeing can offer, compared to Airbus.

Skipping Quarantine: Testing And More Testing Delta

Delta hasn’t placed a major order with Boeing for a decade. Some of those young 737-900ERs are actually second-hand, from financially-troubled carriers. So a three-digit order for a MAX variant would be big news, even if Delta went for A321neos first. Boeing has to overcome some certification challenges for its largest 737. But such an order, from an American carrier, would be an important vote of confidence on the type.



  • During the first year of the pandemic in 2020, Delta retired all of their 737-700, MD-88, MD-90, 777-200ER, and 777-200LR. You wrote “Delta retired very few types during the pandemic,” but five types? That sure isn’t very few, I say that is a lot! If you want to count 777-200ER and LR as one, that’s still four types. The MD-88s were due to be retired anyway, but they had previously planned to keep the MD-90s on for a few more years.
    American also retired five types in 2020. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some airline retired six types that year, but five has to be among the most, doesn’t it? United is a major carrier who retired “very few” types during the pandemic, very few as in none. United hasn’t retired a type since the 747-400 in 2017.
    Besides all that, I thought Delta was done with Boeing. I also thought a few months ago that the 737 MAX was petering out and wouldn’t get many more significant orders. Now it looks like I was probably wrong on both counts.

    • A
      Spyros Georgilidakis

      You are absolutely right… that was a senior moment or a lazy moment. I’d actually written an older article detailing exactly these moves (MD-88, MD-90 retirements), and even used that article as a source here! Mea culpa, article amended. I was probably thinking of United, as you point out… I don’t know.

      I’m not so sure the 737 MAX is petering out. There are a few carriers out there who might be waiting for the right moment to place some additional orders. But the 737-10 certification could still give Boeing a headache, or three.

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