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Delta’s Boss Wants to Be a Customer on Boeing’s ‘797’ Jet

Delta Air Lines Inc. Boeing Co. is showing no hard feelings The No. 2 U.S. Boeing, said Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian. That’s a vote of confidence from one of the most influential aircraft buyers. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky / Bloomberg “You’re going to see us participate in Boeing’s middle-of-the-market campaign,” Bastian said. “I hope that we are going to launch a customer on that program as well.”

The employee message shows how Delta is looking for an active role in the development of Boeing’s first all-new jetliner since the 787 Dreamliner. The Atlanta-based carrier recently invested with the planemaker in an international trade case involving smaller planes and a $ 12.7 billion order last month for Airbus SE ‘S A321neo – one of the toughest aircraft competitors to Boeing’ s next new plane. The airline calls Boeing’s proposed jet “an interesting concept,” said spokesman Morgan Durrant. The plane would be a potential replacement for the Boeing 757s and 767s long domestic routes and midrange international flights. ‘Actively Engaged’ “Delta is still going strong with this program,” said Durrant. A Boeing representative said the company does not disclose details of customer talks. The cost of developing what Boeing calls the “New Midmarket Airplane” would likely run from $ 10 billion to $ 15 billion, Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, said recently.

Boeing has been in talks with more than 50 potential customers as it is refining its design for the NMA and executives build a business case for the planemaker’s board. Market Gap The company is targeting the market gap between the narrow-body and smallest wide-body aircraft. One would seat 225 nautical miles – from the midwestern U.S. to Europe, for example. A larger sibling would seat 275 and cruise about 4,500 nautical miles. Bastian’s Employee Message Should Relieve Concerns That Airbus’s Camp for the Long Term. Boeing last year persuaded the U.S. Commerce Department to slap duties of almost 300 percent on a new jet from Bombardier Inc., called the C Series. The Canadian planemaker sold 75 Boeing alleged. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that the industry is not harming American industry and the duties of being taxed. Airbus Preference While Bastian has said the trade case would not affect Delta’s fleet orders, its decision in December to order 100 Airbus A321neo jets over Boeing’s competing 737 Max 10 fueled industry speculation about whether Delta might shun Boeing for some period. The new Airbus jets will replace at least some of the older 757s, McDonnell Douglas MD-90 and older A320 aircraft. Boeing’s new 797 would be a better place to haul cargo, which is more important for domestic flights, said George Hamlin of Hamlin Transportation Consulting in Fairfax, Virginia. “Delta needs both Boeing and Airbus,” Hamlin said. “If it becomes beholden to one, that does not give it much leverage in negotiations.” – With assistance by Julie Johnsson and Rick Clough

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