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Delta sees 787-9 a potentially ‘very viable’ aircraft

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Delta Air Lines chief executive Richard Anderson is hopeful that the Boeing 787-9 will be a “very viable airplane”, as the carrier continues to meet with Airbus and Boeing for its planned up to 50 widebody aircraft order.

“We’re hopeful that the 787-9, with all the lessons learned on the -8, is going to be a really viable airplane,” he says at an Aero Club of Washington luncheon on 24 June.

Anderson also made favourable comments regarding the Airbus A350-900, which is seen as a competitor to the 787-9.

Delta is evaluating the A330-200 and -300, A350-900 and -1000, Boeing 777-300ER and 787-8, -9 and -10 under a request for proposals for up to 50 aircraft that it launched in April. The aircraft would replace Boeing 747-400 and a significant number of Boeing 767-300ERs in the Atlanta-based airline.

Discussions are on going with both airframers, says Anderson.

“We like to see Boeing and Airbus, and GE, Rolls [and] Pratt & Whitney, we like to see them all come to Atlanta,” he says. “Put them in separate rooms and see what happens.”

Delta wants “real numbers” on range, seat mile costs, maintenance costs and fuel burn for the aircraft before it makes a decision, says Anderson.

“What you want is the 74[7]-400 seat mile costs – lower than the 74-400 seat mile costs – and about a hundred fewer seats,” he says. “RASM goes up, CASM goes down, range is longer [and] you get the drift why that airplane was an important one and why the A350 will be important.”

While he does not rule out the larger A350 and 787 variants, or the 777, Anderson does call them “a little bit big”.

On the possibility of a re-engined A330, which Airbus is expected to make a decision on by the end of the year, Anderson is coy.

“I think Barry’s [Eccleston, president of Airbus Americas] going to make an announcement here after I sit down that the A330s going to get re-engined,” he says. “Let me go ahead an make it for him, Airbus is going to re-engine the A330.”

Various lessors, including Air Lease chief Steve Udvar-Hazy, thinks Delta is very interested in a re-engined variant of the aircraft, dubbed the A330neo.

Delta has said that is only considering aircraft currently available in the market under its RFP.

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