Delta Airline’s last Boeing 777 flight will take off on October 31 before being retired from its fleet in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After announcing intentions to retire its 777 fleet in May, the airline on Friday said it will operate one last trip with the much-loved aircraft from New York to Los Angeles.
All 18 of its Boeing 777 planes – 10 B777-200LRs and 8 B777-200ERs – will be retired by the airline. The aircraft are set to be replaced with Airbus A350s, which will take over many of Delta’s longest international routes, airlinegeeks.com said in a report.
Delta had announced the decision in a press release in May, saying the effort would “accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.”
Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer told airlinegeeks.com that Delta was making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring it 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 time,” Mr. West said.
The website reported that Delta only ever operated Boeing 777-200 aircraft, never investing in the revamped, larger and longer-range Boeing 777-300ER or the upcoming Boeing 777X variants. Instead, the Atlanta-based carrier has taken much of its long-haul business to Airbus in an effort to consolidate its fleet.
The Airbus A350-900 was tipped to be the direct successor to the 777 at the airline, with Delta having received 15 of the aircraft over the past two-and-a-half years, and the Airbus A330-900 is also in the process of joining the airline’s fleet to fill in other operational gaps.
Delta is one among many to leverage the coronavirus pandemic’s resulting plummeting demand as an opportunity to speed up retirement efforts, with other U.S. legacy carriers in addition to airlines in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, alike, phasing out older aircraft to make way for newer ones slated to be delivered in the next few years.
British Airways Bids Goodbye to its 747 Fleet
Earlier on Thursday morning, British Airways retired its final Boeing 747. airlinegeeks.com reported that KLM too is rumored to be discussing early retirement for all of its Airbus A330s. Further still, Etihad’s CEO stated a week ago in a podcast that he expects to see Airbus A380s all over the world retired sooner than planned, leaving the future of the superjumbo jet at the airline almost certainly in jeopardy.
Last month, Delta quietly retired its 737-700 fleet after 12 years of service with the carrier, just months after the final Delta MD-88/90 flight.