777 Jumbo Jets Fly into History Books as Delta Grounds Fleet

The Boeing 777-200LR WorldLiner

Delta Air Lines is retiring its Boeing Co. 777 jumbo jets and replacing them with Airbus SE aircraft — another victim of the coronavirus.

The aircraft will be taken out of service by the end of the year, the airline said on Thursday.

“The retirement will accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet, while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft,” Delta said in the MarketWatch report.

“Delta will continue flying its fleet of long-haul, next-generation Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21 percent less fuel per seat than the 777s they will replace, the airline said,” MarketWatch reported.

Boeing was already in turmoil before the virus after the grounding of its 737 Max aircraft after two fatal crashes that killed more than 300 people over a relatively short period of time.

MarketWatch reported on Delta’s coronavirus challenge:

Like its peers around the world, Delta has responded to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus by cutting capacity and costs, furloughing employees, and parking aircraft and considering early aircraft retirements to reduce its operational complexity and cost.

Delta said Thursday it has parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft to match the decimated demand.

Despite the reduction in international passenger air travel, Delta’s 777 fleet had been busy. Since late April, the “workhorse” plane “has flown dozens of trips from Chicago and Los Angeles to Frankfurt to deliver mail to U.S. military troops abroad; operated between the U.S. and Asia to deliver thousands of pounds of critical, life-saving supplies to aid in the COVID-19 response; and carried thousands of U.S. citizens back to the U.S. from Sydney, Mumbai, Manila and other cities around the world,” the company said.

CNBC reported on Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian’s memo on the development:

CEO Ed Bastian said in a staff memo that the airline aims to eliminate its daily cash burn by the end of the year as the pandemic’s toll on air travel continues. Delta shares were down more than 3 percent in midmorning trading, more sharply than the S&P 500′s 1percent drop.

The Atlanta-based airline said it has halved its daily cash burn to $50 million a day this month, as planned, by cutting flights and reducing other expenses.

“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 substantially reduced customer demand,” Bastian’s memo said.

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