Just about every airline is bragging about their new 787 or orders for new jets. Delta, to be fair, has some newer 737-700’s and 777-200’s, But for now the strategy is buy old jets that other airlines don’t want that can be run profitably for a few more years. Look at the history:
- In April MD-90’s from JAL
- In May the 717’s from SW/AirTran
- An now it seems MD-82’s from SAS are next.
I first saw the news that Scandinavian Airlines was to dump their old fleet back in September and I immediately thought about Delta picking them up. There has been no “official” notice or confirmation of the purchase as stated from Aviation Week but it seems to be a reasonable move by Delta.
Delta is unique in the airline business. They are, as we know, focused on building and keeping the airline profitable. From all the rumors, they are going to be the first US airline to move to a revenue based frequent flyer program (time will tell if this makes money or costs our airline more than the bean counters suggest it will – I think it will be a disastrous choice)! Regionals are being brought in line with the corporate mantra and 717’s will be taking over many routes next year.
So what about planes? Can buying old planes and putting in new seats be sustained for years to come? That seems to be the plan. As long as cost vs. maintenance vs. fuel economy can be maintained there is no reason not to see this trend continue. – René