Atlanta, 14 May 2020 – A recent announcement from Delta Airlines tells us that the end of their Flagship Boeing 777 operations is near. The current fleet comprises of 10 Long Rangers (LR) powered by the General Electric GE90-110B1 engines and the Rolls Royce made RR Trent 895 powered Extended Range (ER) 777s. All 18 aircraft in the fleet at an average age of 15.3 years will be retired. Why? The coronavirus pandemic.
“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. 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,” says Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
The Chief Executive Officer Mr Ed Bastian in an internal memo to the airline’s employees says “ Retiring a fleet of the Iconic 777 is not an easy decision. The 777 has played an important role with Delta since 1999, enabling the airline to open new routes and explore the long haul market and helped Delta to become a global airline. “
The airline operates 8 777-200(ER)s or the Extended Range variant which have a range of 8,542 miles or 13,747 km while the sister ship the 777-200(LR) or the Long Range variant can fly 9,890 miles or 15,916 km nonstop. The first 777 was delivered to the airline on 23rd March 1999 when the 777-200(ER) was introduced into the fleet registered N860DA and aircraft bearing registration N701DN the first 777-200(LR) joined the fleet on 28th February 2008 and was named ‘The Delta Spirit’.
When delivered fresh from the Boeing factory all of the 777s (200ERs and 200LRs) had a capacity of 37 passengers in business class ‘Delta One’, 36 passengers in Premium Economy ‘Delta Comfort’ and 218 in economy class ‘Main Cabin’, that is a total of 291 passengers on board. In 2019, the airline refurbished the cabin with new re-designed interiors and added an extra 5 seats in capacity taking the total to 296 passengers with 28 in ‘Delta One’, 48 in ‘Delta Comfort’ and 220 in the ‘Main Cabin’.
The aircraft will be replaced by the newer and more economical aircraft from Airbus, The A350-900 which burns 21% less fuel per seat and can carry 306 passengers onboard also which is an additional 10 passenger capacity vs the 777 with 13 already delivered and 2 remaining on order, the airline will operate 15 of the type but with a range of 7,275 miles or 11,708 km that’s about the 1,267 miles or 2,039 km less than that of the 777-200(ER) and 2,615 miles or 4,208 km short than the 777-200(LR). It will be interesting to see how the airline will cater for Ultra Long Haul routes like New York to Mumbai which is a distance of around 7,785 miles or 12,530 km or Atlanta to Johannesburg which is roughly 8,425 miles or 13,558 km apart.
|N701DN||29740||Boeing 777-200(LR)||C28W48Y220||The Delta Spirit|
|N702DN||29741||Boeing 777-200(LR)||C28W48Y220||The Spirit of Atlanta|
|N708DN||39254||Boeing 777-200(LR)||C28W48Y220||David C Garrett|
*At time of publishing on 16th May 2020