Delta Pilot Deal Paves Way for Embraers, $4 Billion 737 Jets

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Delta Air Lines Inc. plans to buy 40 737-900ER planes from Boeing Co., valued at about $4 billion at list prices, and will add smaller Embraer SA jets after it ratifies a tentative agreement with its pilots.

The 737 order will take the total for the model, Boeing’s biggest single-aisle plane, to 140, Delta said in a statement Wednesday. Delta aims to deploy the jets as replacements for other narrowbody aircraft scheduled to be retired through 2019. Boeing’s 737-900ER typically seats 180 passengers.

Delta will also acquire 20 Embraer E190s held by Boeing and previously operated by another carrier, the Atlanta-based airline said in the statement. The E190s will enter service in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be used on domestic routes.

The Embraer acquisitions are part of Delta’s strategy of shifting away from inefficient 50-seat regional jets, to bigger planes that save money and can be flown by Delta pilots, bringing jobs rather than outsourcing flying to regional pilots. The 98-seat E-190s are a new jet type for Delta, which also flies other Embraer models.

Delta’s pilot union leaders approved the tentative agreement Wednesday, which included a commitment that would allow it to add the E-190s to its mainline fleet, and it now passes to ratification among rank-and-file members.

The accord also would let Delta deploy as many as 25 extra regional jets with 70 or 76 seats, according to a summary sent to Air Line Pilots Association members. Delta would be able to deploy one new commuter plane for every two of the E-190s.

Delta is the largest customer for Boeing’s long-range 737, according to Boeing’s website. A 737-900ER costs $99 million at list prices, before the discounts that are customary in the industry.

Delta fell 0.6 percent to $40.80 in New York and Boeing gained 1 percent to $142.96. Embraer was little changed at

23.45 reais in Sao Paulo.

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(This story previously corrected the day of the week of the pilot contract agreement.)