Transatlantic 757 Decline: From Key Machine To A Relative Rarity

Just three airlines will use the Boeing 757 from North America to Europe this year, with the type now having less than 2% of all transatlantic seats. While its days are numbered, it will still be used on 22 routes – down from 61 two years ago.

United Airlines is one of three transatlantic 757 operators this year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The Boeing 757 has played an important role in connecting North America to Europe, but its days are numbered. The type had almost seven million transatlantic seats in 2011, although it still had ‘only’ an 8% of all seats in that market.

That year, some 10 airlines used the 757 to enable thinner markets to be served or higher frequencies in more business-orientated markets. The type’s top route was Heathrow to Newark, analyzing OAG data shows, which Continental served four-daily. As you would expect, Continental was all-important, with almost half the 757’s transatlantic capacity (46%).

The 757 has just 2% of all transatlantic seats this year. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer

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Now less than 2% of the market

This year, however, the 757 has fewer than one million seats and less than 2% of the market. Simple Flying showed that 21 aircraft will be used across the North Atlantic this year. The 757 is now the 15th most important aircraft, funnily enough sandwiched between the B747-8 and the A380. The A321neo has nearly twice as many seats as the 757.

Icelandair, Delta, and United will all use the type transatlantically this year. As you’d expect, Icelandair is the largest operator, despite its 737 MAX fleet rising in use and increasingly taking over 757-operated routes.

Icelandair will use the 757 on eight North American routes this year. Photo: Icelandair.


Some eight routes will see Icelandair’s B757-200s between April and December 2021, with Keflavik to Seattle – served 10-weekly in mid-August – number-one by available seat capacity:

  1. Seattle
  2. Denver
  3. Toronto
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Orlando
  6. Portland
  7. Vancouver
  8. Washington Dulles

In the same period in 2019, before coronavirus struck and the MAX being reintroduced, Icelandair’s 757s served 18 destinations in North America. These included Anchorage (served 2013-2019), Edmonton (2014-2019), and Kansas City (2018-2019). Seattle was still top, but Chicago was second; this is now served by MAX aircraft.

Dulles was third, but this is now primarily a B767-300ER route. Newark, meanwhile, was fourth, but no longer sees the 757 as the MAX has taken over. It’s interesting to note that Icelandair’s B767s will actually have more seats between April and December this year than they did in 2019. This is helped by JFK becoming 767-only.

Icelandair is still the largest 757 user across the North Atlantic. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying.


Delta is the second-largest 757 transatlantic user. Three US airports see the type: Boston, New York JFK, and Minneapolis. Delta remains the largest long-haul airline at JFK. It’ll use the 757 on just five routes, shown below in order of size.

  1. Boston-Keflavik
  2. New York JFK-Keflavik
  3. Minneapolis-Keflavik
  4. JFK-Lisbon
  5. JFK-Edinburgh

Boston to Keflavik is Delta’s number-one 757 route and a new route for the airline. It’ll begin on May 20th and operate once-daily until October 29th. Iceland is the first European country to allow vaccinated Americans to visit for non-essential reasons.

It’ll compete directly with Icelandair’s 767s and MAXs to Boston. The MAX is used on its daytime service for point-to-point demand; it departs Boston at 1150 and arrives back in Keflavik at 2050.

Delta has five transatlantic 757 routes this year, down from 11 in 2019. Delta last served Manchester, where this photo was taken, with the 757 in 2017. Photo: Craig Sunter via Wikimedia.


United has the fewest transatlantic 757 seats, although they’re deployed on seven routes, as follows. Newark has 60% of seats, largely from being thicker routes and operating for longer.

  1. Newark-Edinburgh
  2. Newark-Keflavik
  3. Newark-Porto
  4. Chicago-Dublin
  5. Chicago-Keflavik
  6. Washington-Heathrow
  7. Washington-Dublin
United will use its 757s on seven transatlantic routes this year, down from 16 in 2019. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia.

The 757 doesn’t reappear on Washington to Dublin until October 30th and Heathrow until October 31st. The aircraft will operate United’s daytime service to Heathrow, departing Dulles at 0920 and arriving in the UK at 2050. Returning, it’ll leave Heathrow at 0730 and arrive back at 1205.