Global Airport News

Global Airport News

Delta Air Lines plans to go ahead with orders for up to 200 aircraft to replace older narrow-body models, despite growing fears of recession in the United States and a wider global economic downturn.

"We have not changed our plans," chief executive Richard Anderson said during a news conference in Mexico City to announce Delta's purchase of a 3.5 percent stake in Mexican carrier AeroMexico.

Delta will make a decision on the new order in the third or fourth quarter of this year, Anderson said, adding the company is looking at all aircraft manufacturers.

"It comes down to performance and economics," he added.

Brazil's Embraer, the market leader in the regional jet market, said at the Paris Air Show in June that it saw "good chances" for orders from Delta.

Asked what he thought about Boeing's revamped 737 model, Anderson said it is a "very competitive product," but declined to say if Delta was planning to purchase the aircraft.

Boeing's sales were hit in the first half by uncertainty over its strategy for the 737 medium-haul jet, which competes the Airbus A320 family.

Delta has no immediate plans to replace its existing fleet of 170 wide-body jets — mostly used for long-haul flights. The planes have an average age of 12 years and an estimated useful life of 30 years, Anderson said.

As for Delta's fuel hedging strategy in the face of declining oil prices, Anderson said it had worked well so far, resulting in millions of dollars in gains, and it has no plans to change.

"In the next six months, our goal is to hedge about 50 percent of our requirements to reduce volatility. It is a rolling 50 percent for the next six to 12 months ahead," Anderson said.