Delta to retire nearly 400 aircraft over next five years

The US carrier also plans to restructure its order books to better match deliveries with network demand

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has fleshed out the detail of its fleet strategy with specific dates and numbers as it aims to simplify and modernise its roster. 

The American carrier – which currently holds a fleet comprising 834 examples – expects to retire 383 aircraft by 2025, including more than 200 this year alone.  

Delta MD-88
The carrier operated 165 MD-80s and 78 MD-90s over a nearly 30-year period. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Back in June, Delta completed the withdrawal process for its MD-80s and MD-90s. That month, the operator also retired seven Boeing 767-300ERs and ten Airbus A320 examples. 

In September, ten 737-700s received the chop while in December, the removal of the carrier’s 18 remaining 777-200ERs is expected to take place. 

Delta only holds a small fleet of 15 Boeing 777s. Aviation Image Network/BaoLuo

By December 2023, Delta says it will have completed the retirement process for its fleet of 125 Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft – 42 of which are currently operated by Endeavour Air and 74 by Delta Connection. 

The firm’s 91 Boeing 717s also face retirement by December 2025, which is the same time as its 49 remaining 767-300ERs. 

Delta has operated a fleet of 91 Boeing 717s since 2013. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

As for deliveries, Delta says its Airbus and CRJ aircraft order books will be restructured to, “better match the timing of deliveries with network and financial needs over the next several years,” a statement said. 

While no details of specific timings have been announced, the company says its reorganisation will reduce aircraft commitments by more than $2bn this year and by more than $5bn before 2022.  

The fleet adjustments come as the carrier announced a $6.9bn pre-tax loss in the third quarter, compared with a $1.9bn profit for the same period last year. 

In its quarterly results filing, Delta revealed its adjusted revenue for the last three months ending in September totalled $2.6bn, a decline of 79% compared Q3 in 2019. 

Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer, commented: “The actions we are taking now to take care of our people, simplify our fleet, improve the customer experience, and strengthen our brand will allow Delta to accelerate into a post-COVID recovery.” 

The Atlanta-based company’s daily cash burn averaged $24m a day for the three months to the end of September, a drop of more than 50% compared with the previous quarter.