Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson) has resolved to retire all of its B777s by the end of 2020 as a part of its post-COVID fleet readjustment strategy.

"With international travel expected to return slowly, we've also made the difficult decision to permanently retire our Boeing B777 fleet - 18 aircraft - by the end of the year," Chief Executive Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Delta currently operates eight B777-200(ER)s, which are 20.5 years old on average, and ten B777-200(LR)s, which are 11.2 years old on average. The carrier owns all 18 aircraft, the ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows.

The airline uses the B777-200(ER)s on a very limited number of routes from both Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson and Los Angeles Int'l to each of Paris CDG, Tokyo Narita, and Amsterdam Schiphol. The LRs operate on some of the airline's longest routes, including from Atlanta to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Shanghai Pudong, from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Sydney Kingsford Smith, and from New York JFK to Mumbai Int'l. In recent weeks, both types were used to operate repatriation flights.

"The B777 has been a reliable part of Delta's success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time," Chief Operating Officer Gil West said.

Bastian added that going forward, Delta will primarily use A330s and A350-900s for long-haul routes. Delta said that the A350s use 21% less fuel than the B777s.

Further details about the timing of the B777 phase-out will be disclosed in the coming weeks.