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That’s why Delta is unlikely to become an All-Airbus airline anytime soon



Delta has decided to retire from Boeing this year. With avgeeks around the world still absorbing the announcement of the retirement of the Boeing 777s, Delta announced another announcement that it would retire all of its 91 Boeing 717s and the remaining 49 Boeing 767-300ERs. To many, this seemed like the beginning of Delta’s transition to a full Airbus fleet, and while it may be, there are still many years before Delta gets there.

Delta Getty
Achieving a full Airbus fleet will take some time. Photo: Getty Images

Delta’s current fleet and plans

Delta Air Lines currently operates the following 17 types of aircraft:

  • Airbus A220
  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A321
  • Airbus A330-200
  • Airbus A330-300
  • Airbus A330-900neo
  • Airbus A350-900
  • Boeing 717-200
  • Boeing 737-700
  • Boeing 737-800
  • Boeing 737-900ER
  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 757-300
  • Boeing 767-300ER
  • Boeing 767-400ER
  • Boeing 777-200ER and -200LR

This year, Delta embarked on a giant plan to retire the planes. The airline greeted its McDonnell Douglas “Mad Dog” fleet with the MD-90s and MD-80s due out in June. Then came the announcement of the withdrawal of the small Boeing 777 fleet of 18 aircraft. Subsequently, Delta announced the retirement of all of its Boeing 737-700s, seven 767-300ERs and 10 Airbus A320s.

Delta Shanghai
Delta had only 18,777 in its fleet, making them a prime candidate for retirement to reduce carrier inefficiencies. Photo: Getty Images

Now, in September, Delta has again announced another withdrawal impulse, although these are further away with the release of the 717s and 767-300ERs at the latest in December 2025. Once these aircraft are withdrawn, Delta should have the following aircraft in its fleet:

  • Boeing 737-800
  • Boeing 737-900ER
  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 757-300
  • Boeing 767-400ER
  • Airbus A220-100
  • Airbus A220-300
  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A321ceo
  • Airbus A321neo
  • Airbus A330-200
  • Airbus A330-300
  • Airbus A330-900neo
  • Airbus A350-900
Delta Airlines A220
Delta currently only handles the A220-100, although it has 50 firm orders for the -300 and is awaiting delivery of those. Photo: Getty Images

With the addition of the A220-300 and A321neo and the retirement of the four types mentioned above, Delta will be reduced to 15 types of aircraft, with A320ceo and neo family sharing, the same with the A330, A220, 737 and 757 fleets. From the pilot’s point of view, the A330s and A350s have a common type rating like the 767-400ERs and 757s, so Delta can essentially maintain a pool of pilots to operate on both fleets.

Per family, Delta will have the following aircraft:

  • Boeing 737 Next Generation
  • Boeing 757
  • Boeing 767-400ER
  • Airbus A220
  • Airbus A320ceo / A320neo
  • Airbus A330ceo / A330neo
  • Airbus A350
Delta Air Lines Salt Lake
Delta operates over 200 A320ceo family aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Which of these will probably be fine?

Delta is likely either waiting for Boeing to confirm NMA is a no-go, or waiting for a program announcement before deciding what to do with its 757 and 767-400ER fleet. Both of these aircraft are some of Delta’s favorites, with the 757s being a versatile fleet that can do everything from domestic short-haul to international long-haul with front reclining seating.

Delta 757
Delta has 100 757s in its fleet and has not yet decided on a replacement. Photo: Getty Images

The airline has also retrofitted its Boeing 767-400ERs and by sending these aircraft, mainly to London, with revamped interiors, offering passengers a comfortable experience.

Delta 767
The new Delta One seat on a 767-400ER. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Combined, the 757s and 767-400ERs make up 121 aircraft. While the 757s could easily be replaced with the 100 Airbus A321neos to order, Delta would likely have to convert some of these or turn the options into orders, e.g. 20-30 to A321LR or A321XLR to cover long haul international routes of the 757s, to unless, of course, Delta sees a future for long, thin routes and decides to eliminate them.

The 737-800s have an average of 18.8 years, and Delta is 77. Save for four, the Atlanta-based airline owns all of those planes, so retiring them wouldn’t be too difficult for Delta. It is unclear whether he wants to do such a thing, as it would make up nearly 10% of the airline’s fleet. With domestic demand returning much faster than long-range international demand, this is unlikely to be a decision Delta would like to make.

The Boeing 737-900ERs will remain

Delta finished deliveries of its total of 130 Boeing 737-900ERs last year alone, making it the youngest aircraft in this fleet by just over a year. At the end of June, the airline’s 737-900ER fleet was only 3.8 years old on average.

Faa AD Boeing 737
Delta has 130 737-900ER. Photo: Getty Images

Although Delta has shown a willingness to retire fleets of younger aircraft such as the 737-700 and 777-200LR (which on average are only around 11-12 years old), there is a key difference between those fleets and the 737-900ER fleet. . First, both fleets only had ten active aircraft, which made them small and added further inefficiencies, which in turn increased the costs of airlines.

Even if Delta eliminated the 737-800, 757, and 767-400ER, these aircraft would not even reach plausible retirement age (assuming Delta has no problem greeting these aircraft at a young age) until around 2030, which is too much. far to predict what the world or the state of aviation will be like.

Delta aircraft
Even if Delta retires the 737-800s, the 737-900ERs are so new that it wouldn’t make much sense to say goodbye. Photo: Getty Images

Essentially, without a great deal on Airbus jets and a guaranteed plan for the 737-900ERs (perhaps with Airbus trading them in and leasing them as Boeing has done in the past with the Airbus A340s), especially the 49 of these leased. , there is almost no chance that Delta will retire the 737-900ER.

Another option would be to rent the owned aircraft and terminate the leases, although finding a home for 81 737-900ER at an airline may not be very easy unless Delta seeks out some of its own. partners, such as Korean Air, and lean on them to take the jets.

Do you think Delta will try to eliminate the other types of Boeing from its fleet? Let us know in the comments!


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