Delta Said to Wait on Small Jets as Boeing 737 Order Signed

Delta Orders 100 Boeing 737 Jets Valued at $8.5 Billion
A Boeing Co. 737 aircraft sits on the production floor of the Boeing final assembly facility in Renton, Washington. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Delta Air Lines Inc. agreed to buy 100 Boeing Co. 737 single-aisle jets with a catalog value of $8.5 billion as the carrier postponed plans to buy another 100 smaller jets from Embraer SA or Bombardier Inc.

Deliveries of the 180-seat Boeing 737-900ER jets will begin in 2013, Atlanta-based Delta said today in a statement. Separate talks with Embraer and Bombardier have been delayed until at least 2012, a person familiar with the matter said yesterday.

Winning the Delta deal is a boost for Boeing after losing its exclusive ties to American Airlines in July as that carrier split a 460-plane order between Chicago-based Boeing and Airbus SAS. Delta had flown only Boeings until adding hundreds of planes from Toulouse, France-based Airbus when it bought Northwest Airlines in 2008.

“This should relieve some fear of market-share loss” to Airbus and its new A320neo narrow-body jet, Robert Spingarn, a Credit Suisse analyst in New York, said today in a note to clients. “But upcoming orders remain a focus.”

The Boeing purchase will allow Delta to keep its annual capital expenditures from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion over the next three years, and the carrier said it will take 12 to 19 aircraft a year starting in 2013. Airlines typically negotiate discounts from list prices.

“A key component of Delta’s strategy is making prudent investments for the future while maintaining our financial and capacity discipline,” Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in the statement.

Embraer, Bombardier Talks

Delta will use the new jets to replace some of its oldest and least-efficient planes such as Boeing 757s and MD-88s that are 20 or more years old. The 737s will have CFM56-7BE engines, with a total list value of $2.2 billion, that are made by CFM International. CFM is a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.

Discussions with Embraer and rival Bombardier advanced this year while Delta negotiated with Boeing and Airbus for the larger planes, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The Boeing deal was described earlier this week by people familiar with that purchase.

Embraer and Bombardier are trying to create a niche for jets smaller than those from Airbus and Boeing. Single-aisle planes from Sao Jose Dos Campos, Brazil-based Embraer or Montreal-based Bombardier would complement Delta’s mainline fleet of Boeing and Airbus narrow-body planes.

Delta fell 42 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $6.83 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, while Boeing dropped 59 cents to $61.10.

Bombardier climbed 2 cents to C$4.93 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while Embraer fell 26 centavos, or 2.8 percent, to 9.14 reais in Sao Paulo.

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