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Delta Buys 49 Used MD-90s to Control Costs [VIDEO]

| November 17, 2012
Delta Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-90

Delta Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-90

In a move to cut costs and boost their bottom line, Delta Airlines has acquired 49 MD-90 jets to control costs as opposed to buying new aircraft.

Delta will rehab and overhaul the engines and put them in to commercial service.

The move is expected to the save the carrier $1 billion as opposed to buying new planes.

Source

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Category: Airnation

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Comments (31)

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  1. Jim says:

    Great way to go Delta. I applaud your decision to purchase additional DC9 derivative airplanes, the Boeing 717 and McDonnell Douglas MD90. After having been “up front” in the cockpit for over 35 years, and now riding in the back of the bus, it is nice to have 2 abreast seating for my wife and myself. Sure beats either having to climb over someone or having someone climbing over you with the 3 abreast seating of the B737 or the A320 series, with their very short seat pitch.
    Kudos to Delta Airlines for taking financial concerns into consideration in their fleet planning.
    And NO, this is not a commercial for DAL. I was a Captain for a different major airline. Delta and American just happen to be my carriers of choice for the destinations to which we travel most.

  2. Shawn White says:

    Flew on one of these planes with China Southern couple years back. Very nice interiors.

  3. John says:

    This article is either seriously behind the times or the info to write it should have been researched more carefully.

    DL did indeed buy MD-90s from China Southern, but only about 10-15 of them….all that China Southern had, and in the last 18 months. The rest were from various other sources.

  4. Chris says:

    Wow, this is one badly researched faux article! Delta is not buying any MD-90s from China Southern. China Southern has no MD-90s currently and already sold DL all their MD-90s about 2 years ago. Its hilarious that the headline says that 49 MD-90s are coming from China Southern, utterly false. Yes, some of the MD-90s Delta has already bought did come from China Southern but that is old news, YEARS old and the rest came from SAS, JAL, China Eastern, Hello. Its sure weird to see an article that seems to be reporting new news that is quite old in terms of news.

    • Lee Ferrara says:

      Thanks for your input guys. Our contact from Delta confirmed the purchase of 49 MD-90s from China Southern. They could be wrong but just letting you know.

    • Luis Silva-Bonnet says:

      What the heck matters where the airplanes come from? What matters most it’s Delta’s decision to buy the airplanes as a cost-cutting measure.

  5. Lee Ferrara says:

    We’re waiting to hear from Delta.

  6. Chris says:

    I didnt mean to sound rude in my last post..sorry about that! Indeed Delta has taken all China Southern MD-90s, the last being ferried to the US in August becoming 965DN. China Southern took delivery of a total of 13 MD-90s. Deltas current operational fleet of MD-90s number 49 and that includes the original 16 delivered to DL from MDC as well as the second hand MD-90s acquired from China Southern, SAS, JAL, Blue1 and Hello. There are more MD90s on the way that will bring the fleet up to about 64 total. Whomever at Delta thinks that China Southern ever got 49 MD-90s is just wrong, there is no production list from any source including Boeing that says China Southern ever got any more MD-90s than the 13 they received which includes the last MD-90 ever built, the aforementioned DL registered bird, 965DN.

  7. John says:

    Well, the latest Delta filing to the SEC says that they have a total of 49, so far in the fleet (including the original 16), plus another 7 committments.

    No matter what your contact says, I doubt if they’re lying to the SEC. I know that a few came from Hello and there were other sources, too. Kind of difficult to buy 49 from China Southern when the most they had was 13.

    I’d like to see what your contact’s sources are.

  8. Chris says:

    Those anchors on CNBC also had some bad info when they said that “critics claim these old/used airplanes could be unsafe and inefficient”, Im not sure who those critics were because they would be wrong on both accounts and the two industry experts quickly shot down those concerns as being ridiculous. But it does remind those of us who part of the industry just how ill informed the general public is regarding aviation. If I were Delta and CNBC goes on the air and claims that our fleet decisions were compromising safety by acquiring old unsafe airplanes Id be on the phone in a second demanding they go back on the air with a story that was a result of at least 10 minutes of research. If DL was adding Convair 880s and Martin 404s to save money then they might be onto something with the old and unrelieable arguement!
    I would argue DLs decision went far beyond “controlling costs” as WSJ and CNBC claim. They are buying the MD90s and 717s because of a unique opportunity to acquire orphan fleets of relatively new and actually quite efficient aircraft at fire sale prices. DL was in this position mainly because it has MD90s to begin with and was for many years the only airline in the US who operated the type since Reno Air was absorbed by AA. With DLs extensive inhouse MX operation (DeltaTechOPS) they are also uniquely positioned to control the worldwide supply of MD90 and 717 spare parts. Some have suspected that with the acquisition of the 717s this opens the door to the Saudi MD90s which were an orphan fleet within and orphan fleet- those 29 MD90s with the 717/ MD11 style cockpit which differs from all the other MD90s which have the MD88 style cockpit. That said, this is a lucky break for DL which probably has UA, US and AA cursing their luck at having to ante up about 6x more for a new 738 than DL is paying for the MD90s that compare pretty evenly with the efficiency and performance of a new 738! And then the 717 gives DL immediate access to a mainline aircraft to replace the inefficient, unpopular and labor-headache that is the CRJ, again at a bargain basement outlay. The 717 was and still is the most efficient aircraft in its class.

    • Shawn White says:

      I would be interested to know though, how using Convair 880s and Martin 404s would save money:)

      • Chris says:

        Haha, I was more using those as examples of old aircraft that would be less safe…as much as Id love to see a flying CV880!! ;)

  9. Shawn White says:

    Also wondered, how do they get planes like that over to the US. Do they fly them in shorter hops over the North Atlantic?

  10. Chris says:

    If they are coming from Europe, an MD90 would only require one stop, possibly Shannon Ireland or Reyjkavik en route to the east coast. Same for the 717, although all of DLs 717s are domestically sourced. When the MD90 comes from China they all come through Honolulu with stops in Japan and possibly SAP and/or MAJ on to HNL and then to the US West Coast. The frequent stops are necessary not due to the short range of the MD90 but due to the total lack of alternate airfields between Japan and Hawaii! Its best to stop more frequently and fuel up than find yourself out of fuel range to your alternate!

  11. Chris says:

    At present, Delta operates a total of 50 MD90s, with 5 waiting to be delivered (all of which from Japan Airlines) and they have 10 stored.

    Eva Air is operating 5 MD90s, Japan Airlines is operating 4 MD90s, Saudi Arabian Airlines operates 1 MD90 (with 21 stored and 7 operating for AerSale Inc), UNI Airways operates 6 MD90s with 6 being operated by Eva Air. And that’s it! There aren’t any other MD90s in existence. They’re either all scrapped, being operated with the above airlines, or in storage with the above airlines.

    The source article here is wrong. Delta at no point purchased 49 MD90s from China Southern Airlines, only 13. China Southern never had more than 13 MD90s to give. The 49 figure is at least a few weeks old, and includes ALL of the MD90s that Delta has purchased from a variety of airlines. Delta will NOT be purchasing 49 more MD90s from anywhere, as there aren’t 49 MD90s left out there! At least not from one carrier.

    Did anyone notice in the video above, the guy at the beginning starts out by indicating that Delta is buying 137 used aircraft? Then at 46 second in, the other guy indicates that these aircraft are MD80s, not MD90s. Maybe Delta is giving misinformation? There are certainly many, many used MD80s out there, but not MD90s.

    • John says:

      Well, the 137 total comes from 49 (total of MD-90s)+ 88 (717s)= 137.

      What they don’t realize is the MD-90 figures are old news that we’ve heard about for about a year, now. Like I said, the quarter ending (Sept) filing with the SEC shows 41 owned, plus 8 leased and committments to purchase 7 more. I imagine the 41 owned includes the original 16 that were in the fleet.

      Mike Boyd, the aviation analyst, simply misspoke when he said MD-80 instead of MD-90.

      • Chris says:

        That makes sense, John!

        Delta has hit the jackpot with the acquisition of these MD90s and the 717s (which they’ll soon lease from Southwest). Considering the fact that Delta’s MD90s were manufactured between 1995 and 2000, and given the MD90 airframe certification to 60,000 cycles or 90,000 hours, i don’t see why Delta couldn’t keep these aircraft flying for another 20-25 years.

        I really hope Delta can end up purchasing the 717s once the leases expire with WN… Those birds are also certified to 60,000 cycles, and given their even younger age, Delta shouldn’t have a problem keeping them another 30 years. The economics of the 717 is UNREAL… I guess that’s what you get when you take the reliable airframe of the DC9 and tweak it to perfection for over 30 years.

        At present, Delta’s DC9-50 has maintained the highest dispatch reliability of any aircraft in their fleet. That’s a 32-37 year old aircraft! It’s amazing how well-built the DC9 is. I can only imagine how well the 717 will serve Delta in the future.

        • John says:

          Just too bad the media can’t do better research before they start spouting this stuff……the MD-90 story is over a year old and the 717 story is 2-3 months old if not more, but the video makes it sound like DL just announced it. Then, the print media picks it up, after more time goes by and then the internet picks it up after even more time. By the time everyone is done reporting it, it’ll be time to get rid of the a/c.

  12. Chris says:

    These clowns on CNBC or whatever other TV news you watch who are the “aviation analysts” rarely have done their home work and rarely seem to get even the most basic facts right. Reminds me of when an aviation reporter on NPR said that the Qantas trouble with A380 Rolls Royce engines (after the uncontained failure a couple years ago) was also going to be a problem for their 747s since they too have RR engines. No mention that they arent the same engines, that the RB211s on the 744 are 35 year old tech and the Trents on the A380 are quite literally brand new and in their infancy as far as hours on an airframe go AND that RB211s have been around for about 40 years and flown on many different types of commercial aircraft. But hey, they are RR engines so be very afraid! Dont get me started!

  13. Ken Martin says:

    Flew a DAL Md-90 just last week. I too enjoy the two abreast seating, particular on the port side of the aircraft. Know I getting what life is like on the other side.

  14. Js Aparicio says:

    This only reaffirms my criteria that USAF and DoD for that matter gave in to the political muscle and pressure exerted by Boeing and the numerous lawmakers from the states where they have manufacturing facilities to buy brand new 767s (aka KC-46s) at over $ 230 million a copy with the burned out and inconsistent argument that old planes can not be maintained because the costs of spares is sky high and other BS in spite that reality says something else: B-52s and C-135s and KC-135s which are 50 years old still provide excellent service. The Air Force could have fulfilled at least half of the total planned acquisition of the renewed tanker fleet with second hand 767s from airlines with good maintenance reputation and have a fully refurbished and Zero hour KC-46 for less than $ 70 million. Aviation Week and Space Technology reported that this is what cost the Colombian Air Force to acquire one fully refurbished and zero-houred KC-767 capable to handle both drogue and boom refueling 5 fighters simultaneously if needed, and that who did all the work in less than a year was the Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI). What Northwest did so well for years has now permeated to Delta (refurbishing old planes and keeping them well maintained costs far less -considering fixed costs and fuel costs- than shop for brand new airframes every 15 years).

    • John says:

      I agree with everything you say, except for one small detail…….DL also kept older planes around and maintained them for quite awhile. They bought Tristars from UA/PA and EA. So, it isn’t strictly NW’s policy that DL is using….it’s a little bit of both.

    • Chris says:

      I bet a lot of those KC135s have really low hours too, REALLY low since they are utilized much more infrequently than a commercial jet. I too wondered about the KC-46 program and the Columbian KC-46s that were former pax 767s. The newest KC135s were built in 1990 if I am not mistaken. But yes, your point is totally accurate and appreciated.

      • John says:

        I don’t think the 135s were “built” in the 90s, but perhaps you’re thinking of when they re-engined them.

        • Chris says:

          Yes, Yes, sorry. I dont know why this was stuck in my brain. It looks like the last of the CFM re-engining was done in 1990. Interestingly according to the USAF most KC135Rs have only been 30% used up as far as recommended total hours go averaging between 300 and 700 hours per year usage. So, remind me why we need the KC-46? Oh yes, its because Boeing wants to keep the 767 line going for 10 more years.

  15. This only reaffirms my criteria that USAF and DoD for that matter caved in to the political muscle and pressure exerted by Boeing and the numerous lawmakers from the states where they have manufacturing facilities to buy brand new 767s (aka KC-46s) at over $ 230 million a copy with the burned out and inconsistent argument that old planes can not be maintained because the costs of spares is sky high and other BS in spite that reality says something else: B-52s and C-135s and KC-135s which are 50 years old still provide excellent service. The Air Force could have fulfilled at least half of the total planned acquisition of the renewed tanker fleet with second hand 767s from airlines with good maintenance reputation and have a fully refurbished and Zero hour KC-46 for less than $ 70 million. Aviation Week and Space Technology reported that this is what cost the Colombian Air Force to acquire one fully refurbished and zero-houred KC-767 capable to handle both drogue and boom refueling 5 fighters simultaneously if needed, and that who did all the work in less than a year was the Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI). What Northwest did so well for years has now permeated to Delta (refurbishing old planes and keeping them well maintained costs far less -considering fixed costs and fuel costs- than shop for brand new airframes every 15 years).