- Delta Air Lines is the only major U.S. carrier not investing in Boom Supersonic’s Overture aircraft or an eVTOL aircraft.
- CEO Ed Bastian told Fox Business that he still has “many more questions than answers” about Overture.
- Travel analyst Henry Harteveldt told Insider Delta could buy the plane if it sees they can fit into its business strategy.
Major US airlines such as American Airlines and United Airlines are betting on the planes of the future, including supersonic jets and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, but one carrier has yet to make an investment.
On Tuesday, American Airlines announced an order for 20 Boom Supersonic Overture jets, with an option for 40 more. The purchase puts the Texas-based carrier on track to become the largest operator of the ultra-fast aircraft.
United Airlines is the other US airline that has taken an interest in the Overture, having placed an order for 15, with an option for 35 more, in June 2021.
Meanwhile, both major companies have also invested in electric aircraft, especially eVTOL.
American placed a pre-order for 250 VX4 flying taxis from Vertical Aerospace, while United has put down $10 million for 100 of Archer Aviation’s “Midnight” eVTOLs. United has also invested in Heart Aerospace’s ES-19 electric jets.
While American and United are signing deals with startups that promise a new future, Delta Air Lines is the only major US carrier not investing in either. That may suggest Delta has a different vision for its future fleet, but Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group, says that may not be the case.
Instead, he told Insider that he gives “credit” to Delta for taking its time in making decisions.
“There’s an opportunity cost to an airline when it’s buying aircraft, and it doesn’t matter what type of aircraft because there’s only so much money an airline has available to invest,” he said. “Airlines want to invest wisely to get the best possible return, so I see no problem with Delta choosing not to order the Overture or the eVTOLs.”
There is skepticism about Boom’s Overture jet
According to Harteveldt, Delta may very well decide to buy a supersonic jet or an electric jet in the future, but they want to make sure the investment fits their business model and network.
“Regarding Boom, there’s a lot of skepticism within the aviation industry,” he said. “Right now, it doesn’t have an engine.”
Delta CEO Ed Bastian confirmed his skepticism about the plane on Fox Business on Tuesday, saying he “still has a lot more questions than answers.”
“Until we’re confident that we could actually generate a reliable return on the aircraft, that’s not where we’re investing,” he said.
Delta’s Boeing 757-200s may be another 10 to 20 years old
Harteveldt explained that while Delta does not have orders for the Overture or the eVTOLs, they are making decisions that will keep their current fleet flying longer.
Specifically, the company is retrofitting its Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-900ER and Boeing 757-200 aircraft with Split Scimitar Winglets manufactured by Seattle-based Aviation Partners Boeing to reduce carbon emissions.
Harteveldt says the inclusion of the 757 is particularly surprising.
“The 757 is an excellent airplane, but it’s no longer in production, and there’s a lot of curiosity about the future of the airplane,” he said. “But it’s clear that the airplane is playing an important role for Delta, and they’ve found a way to keep them flying for another 10 to 20 years.”
“They may not be the greenest planes, as the engines are not as fuel efficient as some of the next-generation ones, but Delta is keeping dozens of 757s out of the landfill,” Harteveldt continued.
Delta shouldn’t buy certain planes just because its competitors are
It’s still possible we’ll see an order from Delta for an eVTOL or Overture in the future, Harteveldt said, saying that if Delta feels it fits its business strategy, it will order it. But he stressed that the company “shouldn’t feel compelled to order the plane just because other airlines do.”
What matters to Delta is that it finds the aircraft that makes sense from a business standpoint, from a route standpoint and from a network standpoint, and if it makes money for the company and brings in more customers.” he said. “The race is just beginning. .”