The American carrier’s last remaining Triple Seven bowed out over the weekend with a transcontinental service
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines operated its final flight using the Boeing 777 on Saturday (Oct 31), ending its 21-year relationship with the widebody workhorse.
The jet, N701DN (c/n 29740) flew from New York/JFK to Los Angeles landing 25 minutes early. The airline has operated 18 examples since taking delivery of its first on March 23, 1999.
“Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision – I know it has a direct impact on many of you who fly, crew and service these jets,” said CEO Ed Bastian. “The 777 played an important role with Delta since 1999, allowing us to open new long-haul markets and grow our international network as we transformed into a global airline. I’ve flown on that plane often and I love the customer experience it has delivered over the years.”
Following its landing at LAX, N701DN then departed America’s film and television city bound for the aircraft graveyard at Victorville in San Bernardino County, California. Lasting just 24 minutes, the short flight landed at around 6pm on October 31.
Welcoming a Workhorse
Designed for the long-haul market, the 777 offered industry-leading customer experience features such as 2-2-2 seating in business class, personal in-seat entertainment, adjustable footrests, headrests, and lumbar support in economy class.
The airline’s first example, N860DA (c/n 29951) was delivered to the company’s Atlanta/Hartfield Jackson base in March 1999. Just a few weeks later on May 1 the jet’s 277 seats were filled for the first time as the type prepared for its inaugural service to London.
By 2008, Delta was reaching new heights as the first US carrier to take delivery of the 777-200LR, the world's longest-range commercial aircraft. The new jet bolstered Delta’s international expansion, with the ability to serve nearly any city pairs around the world nonstop, including Atlanta – Johannesburg, Los Angeles – Sydney, and other long-haul destinations.
The type’s retirement comes shortly after the airline completed a $100m retrofit of all 18 aircraft cabins, which at the time were flying services between the US and Sydney, Shanghai, Johannesburg and Mumbai.
“The 777 was a workhorse in helping Delta become the premium carrier for business travel, and it undoubtedly positioned us as a leader in international markets,” said John Laughter – SVP and chief of operations. “Even in its final months, the 777 was a big component of our cargo operation in providing critical supplies to our communities.”
Retiring the 777 fleet will accelerate Delta’s strategy to simplify and modernise its fleet while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft. The airline will continue flying its long-haul next-generation Airbus A350-900s, which it says burn 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they replace.