Delta retiring Boeing 777 fleet amid coronavirus fallout

Delta retiring Boeing 777 fleet amid coronavirus fallout

Delta Air Lines is accelerating the retirement of its Boeing 777 fleet, as the airline continues to make cost-saving measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo that was circulated to employees on Thursday, CEO Ed Bastian said that the move was part of the company's restructuring strategy to stay afloat during the pandemic, which has caused Delta to ground 650 of its planes.

"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 said."

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Bastian explained that the company was currently losing $50 million a day during the pandemic.

He added: "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. The 777 has 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."

The company's 777s — 18 in total — will be phased out by the end of the year, according to the memo. Bastian also noted that the company had accelerated the retirement of its MD-88s and MD-90s, older planes that Delta has flown for decades.

The 777s, Bastian said, are being replaced by the Airbus 330s and 350-900s — newer, more fuel- and cost-efficient models that will be able to do the long-haul international flights that the 777s performed.

During the pandemic, Delta has had to refund more than $1.2 billion in airfare, including $160 million in May alone.