According to Jon Ostrower of The Air Current, Delta Air Lines is looking to exchange its Boeing 717-200 fleet for 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets. See the post here on Twitter. On Airliners.net, there is a discussion about the development. Many of the comments on Twitter and Airliners point out that this type of deal would not make sense as Delta would be taking on a more expensive aircraft in this environment. Most of the discussion does not take a look at how Delta could actually save money in the near-term with this deal and be ready for fleet additions in the future.
Delta Air Lines is leasing most, if not all, of its Boeing 717s from Boeing Commercial Capital, the financing division of Boeing. Those 717s all have lease payments and if Delta does not need the aircraft in this unprecedented environment, those lease payments are effectively burning cash for the airline. If Delta is able to work out a deal with Boeing to return those jets and take on an order for 100 737 MAXes, they would be able to cancel those lease payments and minimize cash burn in this environment. In addition, if Delta is leasing or financing the 737 MAX purchase, they would not be responsible for payments until they take delivery of the aircraft. The delivery day would likely be several years from now. As a result of the deal, Delta Air Lines would have reduced costs and deferred additional costs until the current shutdown is over.
By taking a closer look at this type of a deal, it looks like it is beneficial to the company in the short-term. Also, if the airline is able to get a good deal for the jets, it is even better for them. In an era of unusual events, this transaction would help Delta reduce costs.
Other notes: I found this news, which may be a rumor at this point, to be very interesting in the current environment. Although it may seem to be beneficial to operate older aircraft in this environment, any plane that has a lease payment attached to it is a cost that has to be looked at. Right now, Delta has too many planes and will likely keep using the newer ones that have payments attached to them. Any planes that does not have the best economics will be removed from the fleet.
Above is a photo of a Delta Air Lines Boeing 717-200 jet landing at San Diego International Airport in 2019. The photo is by Johnnyw3 on Wikimedia Commons and has been enhanced by FlyRadius. The image is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.