United, Delta admit worries over impact of government shutdown
“At this time, there has been no impact to our operations from these two aircraft waiting for certificates; however, if the shutdown continues more aircraft may be impacted.” the spokesman stated on January 16, 2019, echoing the fears expressed by other major U.S. carriers. United’s CEO Oscar Munoz himself has now spoken out saying the airline is “worried” about the prolonged government shutdown, despite the impact on the carrier being not “significant” as of yet, CNBC reports.
The Chicago-based carrier has a total of 136 MAX family planes (models 9 and 10) on order. Having taken delivery of its first MAX in April 2018, the carrier said it expected to have 10 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet by the end of that year.
Also in April of last year, United signed an agreement to purchase 20 used A319-100s to cover for short-term fleet needs. These aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2020 and 2021, although the carrier has not disclosed the planes’ source. United currently operates 71 A319 aircraft, as Airbus orders and deliveries book indicates.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is also awaiting FAA certification of new aircraft, although the carrier has not disclosed much on the topic. According to CNBC, the U.S. no. 2 airline had scheduled a January 31, 2019, launch of its brand-new Airbus A220 and is now probably biting nails to see the FAA’s services restored as soon as possible. So far, the carrier has taken delivery of four A220-100s, the first one (N101DU) just at the end of October 2018.
The fears were confirmed by Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian who told industry analysts and reporters on its fourth quarter 2018 earnings call on January 15, 2019, that the debut date of its A220 will likely be “pushed back” as the certifications of new aircraft types cannot be completed amid the government shutdown, the Business Insider reported.
"Delta continues to monitor the situation and will work with the FAA to ensure that the A220 is fully certified when it enters our fleet," spokeswoman for the airline told AeroTime on January 17, 2019.
But that is not the only fleet milestone facing delay of entry into service. According to Delta’s COO Gil West, speaking during the earnings call, the certification of Delta’s incoming fleet of A330-900neo widebodies could also be affected. The Atlanta-based carrier has ordered 35 of these aircraft that are expected to be delivered later this year, making Delta the first U.S. airline to operate the A330-900neo. It also has an order for 100 A321neos for its narrowbody fleet renewal, deliveries of which are set to begin in 2020.
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