US carrier Delta Air Lines announced its first-quarter results today, which indicated a loss of over $500 million. Along with the results, Delta offered additional news about its fleet. Currently, the airline is still flying every type in its fleet.
Delta still flies every type in its fleet
Delta has a very diverse fleet of wide and narrowbody aircraft:
- A320ceo (A319, A320, A321)
- A330 (-200 and -300)
- 737 Next Generation (-700, -800, and -900ER)
- 757 (-200 and -300)
- 767 (-300ER and -400ER)
- 777 (-200ER and -200LR)
The Points Guy reports that every type in the airline’s fleet is still flying, and a filing from the airline also confirms this. At the end of March, Delta had parked 325 mainline aircraft temporarily, with another 28 parked permanently. However, no A220-100s had been parked by March 31st. By June, however, Delta will park additional mainline and regional aircraft– over 650.
Compass and GoJet ceased flying for Delta this month, leaving Delta Connection carriers as Endeavor Air, SkyWest Airlines, and Republic Airways. Republic Airways operates Embraer 170 and 175 aircraft on behalf of Delta. Endeavor, Delta’s wholly-owned regional subsidiary, flies CRJ200s, -700s, and -900s while SkyWest, in addition to the aforementioned CRJ types, also flies the E175.
Of the regional jets, 60 were parked by March 31st. Another 80 will be parked through June. While most are coming from Endeavor Air, Delta will park some SkyWest and Republic aircraft.
Regional jets can account for an airline’s minimum service requirements. Thus, it makes sense that fewer of these jets will be parked since those jets are smaller and can service routes previously flown by larger mainline aircraft where there is insufficient capacity.
Future fleet plans
The future of Delta’s fleet has been under the microscope today amid reports that Delta could be retiring its 717s and taking on 737 MAX planes. However, the airline did not confirm or offer many details about retirements.
We do know that MD-88s will be retired by July of 2020 while other fleet types are under consideration. At the end of March, Delta still was flying 18 MD-88s with an average age of 29 years old. At the end of 2019, there were 47 MD-88s in its fleet, meaning 29 of the type had been retired by March.
For now, Delta did not announce additional aircraft retirements, although the airline’s teams will continue to assess whether additional aircraft will exit the fleet. As part of these calculations, the team is weighing fuel and labor costs, maintenance costs, and other factors in relation to expected cash flows. So far, only the MD-88 has come out negative, leading to its earlier retirement.
Further accelerated retirements will likely come from older narrowbodies like 737-800s, A320s, 757s, and MD-90s. The 767 may also fly into the sunset of their operating years. Delta recently finished major investments in the 777s and 767-400ERs. Retiring those aircraft would be a significant loss for Delta. The airline would be left with older products that simply are not competitive on critical routes.
Fleet deliveries have currently been postponed. However, Delta did take new aircraft in 2020. This included three Airbus A220s, four A321ceos, and one A330-900neo. Another two CRJ-900s for regional operations also arrived in 2020. These deliveries came before the onset of the pandemic.
What do you make of Delta’s fleet information from the first quarter of 2020? Should the airline retire additional aircraft? Let us know in the comments!