Delta to retire Boeing 777 from its fleet

New York (AFP) –


Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it will retire the long-range Boeing 777 aircraft, resulting in a large write-off and deepening a likely second-quarter loss due to the coronavirus crisis.

The US airline said it will account for costs of between $1.4 billion and $1.7 billion to retire the 777 by the end of 2020. Airline executives expect demand for domestic service to return more quickly than for oversea flights.

Delta will also accelerate a plan to retire the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 and remove the jets in June.

The actions come as major airlines around the world are fighting for survival following government-mandated lockdowns around the world to combat the coronavirus. US data this week showed there were fewer than one-tenth the number of passengers compared with the year-ago period.

In a memo to staff, Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian said the company would turn to the Airbus A330 and A350-900s "which are more fuel-efficient and cost-effective" as replacements for the 18 Boeing planes.

Bastian said the company is currently burning about $50 million a day in cash.

"With the unprecedented drop in travel demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic slowdown, we continue to take action to protect Delta's cash, Delta jobs and Delta's future," Bastian said.

"Our principal financial goal for 2020 is to reduce our cash burn to zero by the end of the year, which will mean, for the next two to three years, a smaller network, fleet and operation in response to substanially reduced customer demand."

Shares of Delta fell 5.0 percent to $18.44 in early trading.