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A Delta 777-200 touches down in Atlanta (Photo: AirlineGeeks.com | Hisham Qadri)

Delta Plans to Axe Boeing 777 Fleet

Delta Air Lines has announced it will retire the Boeing 777 from its fleet by the end of this year. A decision that will see the removal of eight 777-200(ER) and ten 777-200(LR) from its mainline fleet of 864 aircraft.

The decision was announced by Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, to all Delta employees through a memo titled “Protecting Our Future”, and said the airline has made the “difficult decision to permanently retire our Boeing 777 fleet by the end of the year.”

The introduction of the 777 fleet did not get off to the best start back in 1999. The airline had only received its first two 777s at the beginning of the year but had to delay the remaining deliveries in June after the airline and pilot union, ALPA, failed to agree on pay to operate them. The airline wasn’t willing to pay the high costs of keeping inactive planes parked if an agreement couldn’t be reached and subsequently told Boeing to hold off delivering new jets.

CEO at the time, Leo Mullin, said, “I regret the action Delta has had to take. The 777 was an integral part of our fleet plan.” Come September, the airline and union reached an agreement and so the remaining 11 deliveries were signed off.

The airline was the first U.S. carrier to take delivery of the 777-200(LR) back in October 2006. But today, Delta only operates in total 18 777s, which in comparison to American Airlines, who operate 67, and United Airlines, who operate 96, was a rather small number for a global airline.

In the statement, Bastian continued, ” Our A330s and A350-900s, which are more fuel-efficient and cost-effective, ill perform long-haul flying as international demand returns.”

Bringing emphasis as to why the decision has been made, the boss of Delta highlighted that “parking this fleet will provide significant cost savings over the next several years. Delta is currently burning about $50 million every day.”

The outgoing of the 777 from Delta’s fleet accompanies the recently announced retirements of the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and MD-90, which leave by the end of June.

James Dinsdale
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James Dinsdale
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