When Will Delta Air Lines Retire Their Boeing 757s?

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With over 100 of the type in their fleet, the Boeing 757 is a very important aircraft to Delta Air Lines. Serving high-density short hauls and medium- to long-haul transatlantic services, the 757’s versatility is prized by the carrier. However, these aging aircraft will soon need replacement. As of yet, Delta has not firmly indicated a 757 replacement. Here is a look at the Boeing 757 and Delta Air Lines.

Delta 757
Delta Air Lines operates a significant number of Boeing 757 aircraft. Photo: Delta

Merging with Northwest

The 757 was the only common type between Delta and Northwest. However, Delta only operated the smaller 757-200 prior to the merger. Through the merger, Delta acquired the larger Boeing 757-300. Unlike the 757-200, the longer derivative version is not as versatile and serves high-density routes in the United States.

NWA 757
A Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 with a Delta Connection regional jet in the background. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Delta kept a large number of the 757s acquired from Northwest and the Atlanta-based carrier has kept them in service. The latest count from Airfleets shows Delta operating 127 Boeing 757s, with an average age of over 20 years. This puts these aircraft very close to their ideal retirement age.

What are their 757s like?

Delta’s 757s are configured for two different markets. On one hand, there are domestic and leisure 757s with First Class, Comfort+, and Main Cabin. Meanwhile, for premium and long-haul markets, Delta offers lie-flat business class. Each seat has access to seatback entertainment.

Delta Comfort+
Delta Comfort+ service on a Boeing 757-200. Photo: Delta Air Lines

How will Delta replace them?

Delta has shown a strong liking for the Boeing 797 as a replacement for their Boeing 757s. Although the 797 has not yet been formally announced by Boeing, it is believed that the manufacturer will go ahead with these plans after the 737 MAX returns to service.

Delt a 757
Delta could replace their 757s, often used for special flight events, with Boeing 797 aircraft. Photo: Delta

If the 797 does not work out, Delta could go for Airbus A321 aircraft. In 2017, Delta ordered 100 A321neo aircraft with options for 100 more. Airbus and Delta could work with this order for some A321LRs or A321XLRS to replace the 757 on long-haul routes. Although Delta has not indicated this as a possibility, it seems to be the only likely aircraft for Delta if the 797 does not fit with their timeline.

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How long will they keep flying the 757s?

The 757s will likely stay through the mid-2020s, as Delta is unlikely to get any replacement for these aircraft prior to then. Moreover, the lack of an internationally-configured aircraft to replace the 757 long-haul routes would lead to the cancellation of several routes, something Delta undoubtedly wants to avoid happening.

Delta
Delta pilots will likely keep flying the aircraft through the mid-2020s. Photo: Delta

Delta could retain these aircraft into the later 2020s due to the sheer number in its fleet. Replacing over 100 aircraft is no small deal, and delivery delays or production line issues could require Delta to fly the 757s for longer- albeit at a high cost.

Delta 757
757s, like this one, could fly through the next decade if replacement aircraft come in slowly. Photo: Delta

Do you like the Boeing 757? What aircraft do you think Delta will replace their 757s with? Let us know in the comments!

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Simple Flying reached out to the airline. However, Delta did not respond prior to publication. 

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