Delta Seeks Airbus-Boeing Bids for Wide-Body Jetliners

Delta Air Lines Inc. is seeking bids from Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV for as many as 50 wide-body aircraft to replace aging models that include its only four-engine planes.

The planemakers are set to respond by mid-summer in the U.S., Michael Thomas, a Delta spokesman, said today after Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told a Washington audience the carrier was interested in twin-aisle jets. Delta sent out the request for proposals at the end of March.

Buying wide-bodies would let Atlanta-based Delta phase out its 16 747-400 jumbo jets, which are among its oldest aircraft with an average age of 20.1 years. Besides those four-engine jets, Delta also wants to unload at least some of its twin-engine 767-300ERs, Thomas said.

Based on the planemakers’ current twin-engine offerings, Delta’s options would include Boeing’s 777 family and the Airbus A330. Thomas didn’t identify what planes Delta would consider.

Delta has 58 extended-range versions of the 767-300 that average close to 18 years, according to Delta regulatory filings. Some of the 767-300ERs were delivered as recently as 2001 and won’t be among those replaced, Thomas said.

Delta operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and favored Airbus in a September order for 10 wide-body A330-300s and 30 single-aisle A321s. Delta also has had a practice of flying new and used aircraft to help reduce operating costs.

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