Delta goes shopping for deals on the used-airplane lot

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it will buy or lease 36 used planes at good prices to position itself for growth after the pandemic.

Terms were not announced. Delta said it expects to receive the planes by the first quarter of next year and put them in service after making modifications.

During the pandemic, Delta moved up the retirement of many of its older planes, including large Boeing 777s and mid-sized MD-88 and MD-90 jets.

In their place, Delta will lease seven used Airbus A350s to replace the Boeing 777s, and it will get 29 used Boeing 737-900ERs, a large version of the 737 that came before the 737 Max. Delta already operates both the A350 and the 737.

Atlanta-based Delta’s acquisition of used planes contrasts with United Airlines’ announcement last month that it will buy 270 new Boeing and Airbus jets. Delta ordered 25 new Airbus jets in April, but its latest move takes advantage of a sharp drop in prices for used planes that airlines parked after the start of the pandemic.