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A Delta 777 departs from Frankfurt (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Final Delta 777 Flight Takes Off For Los Angeles

Delta is preparing to operate its final Boeing 777 flights. The final service, from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles International, will fly on Saturday, and the carrier’s final international 777 flight took place on Wednesday.

The Atlanta-based carrier announced in May that it would retire its entire 777 fleet before the end of the year. Though the airline only flies 18 of the type, the 777 was instrumental to reforming Delta’s international services.

Like many other airlines, Delta has been retiring various fleet types to consolidate operations into a select number of more efficient aircraft. Such moves will help cut costs by both reducing emissions and cutting the number of planes that must be stored and maintained without flying.

In a call with reporters, Delta Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch said that, in retiring its 777 fleet, Delta is streamlining its fleet to both cut costs and improve the customer experience. He added that standardizing its fleet helps Delta cut costs in crew training, acquiring spare parts and maintaining service standards.

A Delta 777 touches down. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Delta’s 777s will find temporary homes in storage in Victorville, Calif. There, they will await either a new airline or eventually be scrapped. All of Delta’s 777s, including their cargo variants, will be sent into retirement.

Lentsch stressed that this retirement does not mean Delta is cutting its international services. Rather, flights once operated by the 777 will be transferred to other aircraft types, like the A350, and will continue operating. Since Delta expects domestic travel to rebound before international travel, the company will have time to work out the logistics of ramping up long-haul operations with new aircraft.

Above all, Lentsch stressed Delta’s focus on keeping customer experience consistent across the aircraft that will replace the 777 both with current fleet availabilities and with future deliveries.

Delta took its first 777 in 1999 and entered service on March 1 of that year. Delta has taken deliveries of 777s well into the 2010s, and the last flight from New York to Los Angeles will be flown by one of Delta’s youngest 777-200LR planes. 777s have flown 1.26 million flight hours on over 133,000 flights for Delta.

“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,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote in a letter to employees earlier this year. “However, parking this fleet will provide significant cost savings over the next several years.”

Besides the 777, Delta has also withdrawn its Boeing 737-700s and McDonnell Douglas MD-88s from service since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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