Delta Air Lines announced they’ll be retiring their entire Boeing 777 fleet the end of the year. Due to COVID-19, we can expect all 18 Boeing 777 aircraft used primarily on longhaul international routes to be retired.
This news comes after Delta’s earlier announcement to retire MD-88, MD-90 fleets in June, which reduces Delta’s mainline fleet by 66 aircraft between the two.
Delta plans to retire its 18 widebody Boeing 777s by the end of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The retirement will accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet, while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.
Last month, Delta announced plans to accelerate the retirement of the MD-88 and MD-90 fleets to June. Since the onset of the COVID-19 situation, Delta has reacted quickly by parking aircraft and considering early aircraft retirements to reduce operational complexity and cost. To date, the airline has parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft to adjust capacity to match reduced customer demand.
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.
It’s unfortunate that Delta will be retiring the Boeing 777 aircraft, as the airline only recently retrofitted the first plane less than 2 years ago with the new Delta One Suites. Delta’s 777 fleet includes a mix of eight of 777-200ER and 10 777-200LR aircraft.
Despite Delta’s Airbus A350-900s being more fuel efficient, it’s unclear if these aircraft would be fit two of Delta’s longest flights between Los Angeles-Sydney and Atlanta- Johannesburg due to weight restrictions due to cargo.
At best, we’d likely see passenger loads being limited on both of these routes, however there would be revenue displacement as a result, so I wouldn’t rule out anything with it comes to Delta’s international route map going forward.
What are your thoughts on Delta retiring the Boeing 777 fleet? Is this something that you saw coming? Leave a comment below.