Delta CEO says Boeing, Airbus are critical partners

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the airline stands by Boeing

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said both Boeing and Airbus remain critical partners for the company despite scrutiny surrounding the Boeing Max 9. 

"We need a strong Airbus. We need a strong Boeing to supply us," Bastian said during an interview Wednesday on "The Claman Countdown." "We only have two basic manufacturers that we can source planes from." 

Bastian responded to a question about whether the company regretted placing an order in 2022 for 100 Boeing Max 10 planes.

Bastian said those planes were supposed to start being delivered in 2025, but he believes that timeline will "realistically" be pushed back. 

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The comments came more than a month after a Max 9, operated by Alaska Airlines, had a door plug blow out after taking off from Portland International Airport in Oregon, resulting in a temporary nationwide grounding of all Max 9s with door plugs. 

In a preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board discovered that four key bolts were missing from the door plug.

Ed Bastian

Delta CEO Ed Bastian at the Hope Global Forums annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Dec. 11, 2023. (Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

"It is a very serious issue that Boeing is facing, and we stand by them," Bastian added. "We look forward to the opportunity to take the plane when it's ready."

Bank of America analyst Ronald Epstein told FOX Business that while Boeing needs to "get their house in order," the planemaker's assets are extremely important from an industrial base and national security perspective. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 46.87 -0.77 -1.62%
BA THE BOEING CO. 169.55 -3.81 -2.20%

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"There's a strong national reason why you want The Boeing Company healthy and prosperous," Epstein said. "One, balance of trade. Two, national security." 

Epstein noted how the company is one of the largest defense contractors and one of the largest exporters.

NTSB official analyzes Alaska Airlines blowout

Investigator-in-Charge John Lovell examines the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX. (NTSB / Fox News)

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After the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded the Max 9 planes, it ramped up oversight of the company and its suppliers, including announcing that Boeing would not be granted any production expansion of the Max for the time being.

Alaska and United Airlines, the two carriers that fly the Max 9s, have started to return the planes to service after a rigorous inspection process, but FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said "this won’t be back to business as usual for Boeing." 

"We will not agree to any request from Boeing for an expansion in production or approve additional production lines for the 737 MAX until we are satisfied that the quality control issues uncovered during this process are resolved," he added.