Delta Air Lines is angling to be the launch customer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ “middle of the market” aircraft, according to comments made the carrier’s CEO in an internal communication to employees. The report by various news services may curb any potential rift between the OEM and the airline stemming from Boeing’s contention that Delta’s 2016 purchase of 75 Bombardier C Series jets constituted a violation of U.S. fair trade regulations.
“You’re going to see us participate in Boeing’s middle-of-the-market campaign,” Delta chief executive Ed Bastian wrote to employees. “I hope that we’re going to be a launch customer on that program as well.”
Boeing’s MOTM concept, sometimes referred to unofficially as the “797” aircraft, is expected to be a single-aisle aircraft that is larger than the current 737 MAX but not as large as the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing formerly filled that market niche with its 757 series, which it discontinued in 2004.
Delta Air Lines operates one of the largest 757 fleets still in service.
The jet-builder acknowledges its MOTM program but has made no official statements on the design nor the development schedule, nor of any discussions with potential airline partners.
The new-aircraft project has been suggested as one factor in Boeing’s strategy in the pursuit of Embraer’s commercial aircraft business.
“Delta finds it to be an interesting concept and could be a long-term replacement for some 757s and 767s,” according to an airline spokesman. “Delta is actively engaged with Boeing on this and we will continue a healthy dialogue with them as the program matures.”