Delta Air Lines still hopes to take delivery of Bombardier’s C Series jets – without paying tariffs up to triple the price of the planes – but the trade dispute is forcing the airline to spend a bit more than it expected to keep MD-88s flying in the meantime.
“Yes, we do know that we will not be taking the C Series according to the current schedule, which would be taking delivery this spring,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told investors and reporters during an earnings call Thursday. “And to that end we have to invest in maintaining some aircraft, particularly MD-88s to keep them around a little bit longer than we were otherwise anticipating.” (Also from Thursday: Delta banks on increase in premium seating on new planes)
Boeing has challenged Delta’s plans to buy 75 of the planes with up to 109 seats each, saying the Canadian manufacturer is unfairly subsidized. But Delta contends Boeing doesn’t market a plane of that size because the 737 Max 7 starts at 138 seats. The Max 7 is currently the smallest passenger jet on offer from Boeing.
The Commerce Department’s International Trade Commission is expected to decide later this month whether Boeing would be harmed. If the U.S. manufacturer proved harm, the department has threatened 300% tariffs. (Related: Airbus takes majority stake in Bombardier’s C Series program)
Bastian repeated that Delta doesn’t expect to pay tariffs on the C Series.
“Once we know what that is, then we will set our plans accordingly,” Bastian said.
More on the C Series and Delta:
In the meantime, Delta expects its maintenance costs to be “a little bit…