Delta Air Lines has confirmed its final Boeing 777 flight will take off on Oct. 31. After announcing intentions to retire its 777 fleet earlier in the year, the airline will operate one last trip with the much-beloved aircraft from New York to Los Angeles.
All 18 of its Boeing 777 planes – 10 777-200LRs and eight 777-200ERs – 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.
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In an exclusive interview with AirlineGeeks, Delta Air Lines revealed plans for the final journey of its Boeing 777 fleet. The airline has scheduled two final flights at the end of October to top off its iconic relationship with the Boeing 777.
On October 30, the penultimate 777 flight will take off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport under flight number DL8787. On October 31, Delta’s final 777 flight will leave from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York to Los Angeles.
Why is Delta retiring their 777 fleet?
Like most sweeping changes occurring at airlines across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a critical role in the decision. Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, Gil West, clarified in a statement in May,
“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.”
Delta has been operating its 777-200 fleet for over 20 years and embarked upon an extensive $100 million refurbishment project of its 777s as recently as January 2019. Despite this, the planes are the first to make way in Delta’s sizeable fleet. With a severe drop in long-haul international travel, the airline cannot afford to continue operating its widebody fleet at current capacity.
Plans for replacements
The 777-200 has handled most of Delta’s long-haul international routes and is set to be replaced by another long-haul aircraft – the Airbus A350. Delta has added 15 Airbus A350-900s to its fleet within the past three years, while several A330-900s are expected in the coming years.
The A350-900 will offer up to a 21% reduction in fuel usage for more economical long-haul flights. Delta will offer Delta One Suites and Premium Select options for passengers, but has not revealed plans to implement Comfort+ seats as of yet.
What now for Delta?
While the domestic flight market has shown promising signs of a recovery, international flights around the world have ground to a halt. In August, Delta flew only 30% of its international routes and recovery has been slow in subsequent months. Conversely, Delta managed to operate 50% of its domestic routes in the same month.
News of its final 777 flight will inspire much sentiment in passengers and staff alike. As COO Gil West stated:
“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.”
Do you agree with Delta’s decision to retire its 777s? Let us know in the comments.