Delta Airlines have today announced that they will retire their fleet of 18 Boeing 777 aircraft.
Delta currently operate 18 of the type – 10 of which are the somewhat rare 777-200LR. This also brings into question the future of their route between Atlanta and Johannesburg. The distance between the two airports is just over 8400 miles according to gcmap.com. Where as the airlines A350 aircraft has a range of 8100 miles.
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. 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 timeGil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer.
The first Boeing 777 joined the Delta Airlines fleet in 1999. This was the -200ER variant. In 2008, the -200LR variant was acquired. The youngest 777 in the Delta fleet is just 10 years old.
This becomes the third fleet type that the airline has announced to be retired due to the current situation. Previously, it was announced that the MD88 and MD90 fleets would be disposed of in June 2020.
The timing of this is a little unfortunate for the airline. They had only recently finished refurbishing their 777 fleet. At a cost of no doubt millions, the latest Delta One Suite was fitted, along with a new Premium Select cabin and an increasingly uncommon 9 abreast economy layout.
The seats that were fitted will have to be scrapped – they wont fit into the new Airbus A350 aircraft that are coming online.
The Boeing 777 was a bit of an oddball of the fleet. With the exception of the incoming Airbus A350, it was by far the smallest fleet. As mentioned above, The Airbus A350 will be able to take over all of the 777’s route network, with the exception of Johannesburg.
Going forward, Delta will operate the Airbus A330 and A350 on their longhaul routes. Although ominously, the Boeing 767 isn’t mentioned in the press release…