Delta continues plane-buying spree, orders 12 Airbus jets

Delta said Tuesday that it converted options into firm orders to get 12 more jets from Airbus. The deal comes one day after Delta announced it will buy 100 Boeing 737 Max jets.

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press file

One day after placing a big order with Boeing, Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it has ordered 12 more jets from Airbus, Boeing’s European rival.

Delta converted previous options for the Airbus A220 into firm orders that will be delivered starting in 2026. The deal was announced at the Farnborough International Airshow near London.

The A220, developed by Canada’s Bombardier, has up to 130 seats and is bigger than a regional jet but smaller than the Boeing 737 Max.

Delta announced Monday that it will buy 100 copies of the largest Max version, which is still awaiting certification by U.S. safety regulators. It was Delta’s first order with U.S.-based Boeing since 2011.

Delta did not disclose terms of either order. The Boeing jets would be worth $13.5 billion and the Airbus order more than $1 billion at list prices, although airlines get deep discounts.

With U.S. air travel about 90% recovered from the worst of the pandemic, airlines are buying new planes that are more fuel-efficient than older ones.

The orders are adding more debt on airlines, which have borrowed heavily since the pandemic started. Delta ended June with $21.4 billion in long-term debt, up from $7.2 billion at the same point in 2019.