Could Delta Sell Their 737s to Southwest and American — and Stock Up on More Airbus Planes?

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Row 1, seats 1C and 1D of the Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-900ER.

I know an airline that operates plenty of 737s — and a couple of other carriers who may need a few.

Delta’s 737 Jets

Delta flies 217 of the Boeing 737 aircraft.

The one I ride most often is the 737-900ER (which makes up almost 60% of Delta’s 737 fleet). René rode the plane’s first Delta revenue flight and had nice things to say about it.

Less than four years later, he shared the same sentiment many of us have.

It’s way too cramped at 180 seats — 11 more than the 757-200 75S that operate some domestic Delta One flights. Yes, the D1 seats take up more space than standard first class seats. But the 75S is almost 20 feet longer than the -900ER.

Whenever I’m selecting itineraries, I roll my eyes in disappointment when a 737-900ER is flying one of the segments. Depending on fare and schedule differences, I’ll sometimes opt for an A321 or even a 757.

Sure, it’s not as awful as the CRJ-200. But I’m generally on CRJ-200s for only an hour or so; my 737-900ER rides are usually between two and four hours.

Delta Air Lines 737-900ER exit row.

I like the A321s — and am happy Delta is stocking up on them. And Delta recently received its final Boeing airplane on order. The mothership is now full steam ahead with Airbus.

What if Delta sold off a bunch of their 737s and acquired more A319s and A320s from other airlines? (Delta, after all, has a history of buying used planes.)

I know there are plenty of logistical challenges involved (pilot retraining, etc) and don’t expect Delta to call me saying, “Great idea! We decided to have a 737 garage sale today!” (Or maybe would it be a hangar sale?) But let’s just say…

American and Southwest Need 737s

Not sure if you heard but the 737 MAX has had some problems.

Other than Boeing, no one Stateside knows this more than American Airlines and Southwest.

AA received 24 of the doomed planes, with another 76 on order. They’ve canceled 737 MAX flights until at least November.

A Southwest airlines 737 MAX 8 landing at Ronald Regan National Airport(DCA) Arlington, Virginia, USA November 8th, 2018 Plane-Boeing 737 Max 8 Registration-n8704q Airport- DCA Photo Credit- Domonic Evaninia

(Photo credit: Domonic Evaninia – ©

Southwest, meanwhile, took delivery of 34 of the 280 they ordered. Ouch. And the airline of LUV was planning to retire is older 737-700s this year. (That, from what I’ve read, is on hold). They pulled out of Newark because the jets are grounded. And they’ve canceled a bunch of flights into 2020.

Now, the plane’s flight controls may have to be redesigned.

So. Guess who could use some reliable 737s that don’t have the “MAX” suffix attached to their name?

Airbus is American-ish

One thing I love about Boeing is they’re an American company that builds many of its planes right here in the good ole US of A. I always loved hearing about Boeing receiving big orders.

Delta Airbus A220 aircraft.

But since they’ve dropped the ball with the MAX — and let’s not forget that whole “a wireless device could maybe crash the plane” thing we wrote about a few weeks ago — I’m far less enthused about them.

Airbus has built A320s in Mobile, Alabama since 2015. And they’ve long had a presence in Wichita, Kansas.

Airbus also recently starting constructing A220s in Mobile. And they’re funneling money into the American economy: taxes, wages, and spending.

Would This Idea Fly?

Do you like Delta’s 737? Or would you rather see the mothership get more Airbuses? (Personally, I find Airbus planes more comfortable that many Boeings.)

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below! –Chris


  1. So much here…

    I like the Airbus over Boeing narrowbodies on delta. They just feel more spacious.

    Southwest used the max as an excuse for Newark, a city they always struggled with.

    While DL could sell them, everyone seems to need capacity right now, so not sure they’d be able to logistically do deals fast enough for everyone to be flying by Thanksgiving.

  2. I’m not quite sure why Delta would want to help its competitors by supplying them with additional aircraft/capacity. Also, neither the 320 nor the 319 offer nearly the same capacity as the 739, so Delta would be effectively arming their competition while disarming themselves. Plus, I think the CASM of a 737-900ER is lower than that of a 320 or 319, so once again, they’d be hurting themselves while helping their competition. I could go on…this is just a really, really bad idea.

  3. Used to be a Boeing fanboy when I was younger and more naive. But after millions of miles later, I prefer Airbus across all segments, so I like this idea. Delta should find a way to trade or sell planes to the other airlines who are more into 737… This helps everyone since most airlines now want to streamline fleet type.

    I think Alaska is the perfect candidate. They really hate their A321 from Virgin, why not sell each other the unwanted plane.

    I’d really like to see Delta focus on A220 for lower end of the fleet and have A319, A320 and A321 as mainline narrowbody. Get A321XLR to replace 757 on longer routes. Use 767/A330/A330neo and A350 as main widebody for long haul. Use newer 767 until retirement and replace with A330/A350. Either trade the 777 for A350 or 767. Delta has a large enough 767 fleet, and it fits the route demand for its bases.

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