To keep up with increased travel demand, Delta Air purchased 33 used Boeing 737s from Lion Air. As of last week, the first used aircraft of the purchase, N951DX, has been delivered to Delta. We should expect 5 more to be delivered by the end of 2022 and all the planes to be soaring by October 2023.
Due to the pilot shortage that has been hitting the U.S. airline industry, Delta made this purchase rather than cutting flights or resorting to exiting smaller markets – especially since we are currently in the busiest holiday travel season for the airline industry since pre-COVID. While this purchase will not permanently fix the ongoing issues within the airline industry, the used aircrafts should at least offer a temporary solution.
These ex-Lion Air 737-900ERs were sold by Malaysia Malindo Air, and the cost was comparatively cheaper than if Delta had bought brand new. Additionally, Delta is able to expect the planes quicker than if they had bought directly from Boeing.
Due to flight demand paired with ongoing staff shortages, Delta won’t take long to get these 737s off the ground. In fact, according to simpleflying.com, this speed of introduction means they will not yet be retrofitted with Delta’s own cabin and hard product. More specifically, this means no WiFi or in-flight entertainment and no ‘proper’ Comfort+ class. These changes, however, can be expected to be added between 2023 and 2024.
Delta’s current 737-900ERs have 20 domestic first seats and 160 in economy – with 21 being Comfort+ seats. The new additions will 12 domestic first seats and either 161 (24 Comfort+) or 168 (6 Comfort+) seats in economy.
Because the aircrafts can’t match the interior look and feel of the other 737-900ERs in Delta’s current fleet, these new additions will only service up to 256 miles outside of Atlanta, where Delta’s hub resides. At the moment, there are only five routes that will be serviced – and they are summarized below. However, since there are more aircrafts on the way, this schedule is expected to change.