Delta Air Lines Inc. is considering buying as many as 20 wide-body jets from Airbus SAS or Boeing Co. with a list value of at least $4.3 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

The order under study is for 10 to 20 Airbus A330s or Boeing 777s, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private. Deliveries would start within a few years, one person said. Delta already has both plane types in its fleet.

Purchasing the jets would bridge Delta’s wide-body needs until the end of the decade, when Airbus’s new A350 and Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner will have been in service for several years and would have any kinks worked out, one person said. Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson has said repeatedly he prefers buying established models with proven reliability.

Prices for the Airbus and Boeing jets vary according to the planes’ configurations. Airbus lists the A330 at as little as $216.1 million for the -200 model, while the 777-200ER is the cheapest in that family, at $258.8 million. Updated versions cost more, though airlines typically buy at a discount.

Delta signaled earlier this month that it might consider new twin-aisle planes, as President Ed Bastian said at a JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference that the Atlanta-based airline may find “opportunities in the marketplace selectively to add to our wide bodies.”

Bastian said Delta would talk to both Airbus and Boeing. Mary Anne Greczyn, a spokeswoman for Airbus, and Marc Birtel, a spokesman for Boeing, declined to comment on any discussions with Delta.

Biggest Twin

The 777, Chicago-based Boeing’s largest twin-engine jet, debuted in 1995, a year after the A330. The 777-200ER and A330-200 seat about 270 and 240 people, respectively, and are typically used on long-haul routes.

Delta also has held talks with Boeing and Toulouse, France- based Airbus about buying $1 billion or more of new single-aisle jets as the planemakers wind down production of those planes in favor of upgraded versions, people familiar with that matter said in January.

That purchase would involve Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s before those planes’ successors –- the A320neo and 737 Max –- arrive later this decade, the people said.

Anderson also has opted for used planes in recent years as the replacements for some of his oldest jets, forgoing the fuel efficiency of newer models while saving money on the purchase price.

Delta became the biggest operator of Boeing’s out-of- production 717 under a May 2012 sublease agreement with Southwest Airlines Co. to take 88 of those single-aisle planes. A month earlier, Delta said it bought seven Boeing MD-90s from Japan Airlines Co.

Delta had 717 jets in its main fleet as of December, 158 of them wide-bodies. Of those, 80 percent are made by Boeing.

With assistance from Andrea Rothman in Toulouse, France, and Susanna Ray in Seattle. Editors: Ed Dufner, Stephen West.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at

Photo Credit: A Delta Air Lines jet lands at BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport near Baltimore, Maryland October 24, 2012. Gary Cameron / Reuters