Delta will permanently retire its fleet of Boeing 777s by the end of the year as part of its plan to eliminate its daily cash burn. The airline says that Airbus A330s and A350-900s will take over flying on many of the routes.
In an internal memo to staff CEO Ed Bastian said:
“With international travel expected to return slowly, we’ve also made the difficult decision to permanently retire our Boeing 777 fleet – 18 aircraft – by the end of the year”. He said more “fuel-efficient and cost-effective” A330s and A350-900 planes, made by Airbus will be used instead. “Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision – I know it has a direct impact on many of you who fly, crew and service these jets.”
According to Airfleets.net, the average age of Delta’s 777 fleet is 15.2 years. Delivery dates range from 3/23/99 – 3/24/10. It was only earlier this year that Delta finished the upgrade and reconfiguration of all 777s inclusive of Delta One Suites and Premium Select cabins.
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“We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer. “The 777 has been a reliable part of Delta’s success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time.”
The Boeing 777-200 first entered the fleet in 1999 and grew to 18 aircraft, including 10 of the long-range 777-200LR variant, which arrived in 2008. At the time, aircraft was uniquely positioned to fly non-stop between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, Los Angeles to Sydney and other distant destinations.
Delta will continue flying its fleet of long-haul next generation Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they will replace.
Despite a reduction in international passenger travel, the 777 fleet has been the workhorse of Delta’s cargo, mail and U.S. citizen repatriation operations amid the pandemic. Since late April, the widebody jet has flown dozens of trips from Chicago and Los Angeles to Frankfurt to deliver mail to U.S. military troops abroad; operated between the U.S. and Asia to deliver thousands of pounds of critical, life-saving supplies to aid in the COVID-19 response; and carried thousands of U.S. citizens back to the U.S. from Sydney, Mumbai, Manila and other cities around the world.
More specific details of the timing of the 777’s exit from the fleet will be disclosed at a later date.
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- 2013 Trip Report: Delta 777 non-stop to Jo’burg (ATL-JNB-ATL)
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