Delta Air Lines fleet

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A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200ER landing at London's Heathrow Airport

As of August 11, 2018, the Delta Air Lines mainline fleet includes 886 aircraft in service, making it one of the largest airline fleets in the world. Before merging with Northwest Airlines in 2009, Delta Air Lines operated an all-Boeing and McDonnell Douglas fleet; it incorporated Northwest's Airbus aircraft into its fleet following the merger and subsequently ordered further Airbus types. Delta is known for its policy of generally buying older generation or used aircraft and for continuing to fly aircraft for 20-30 years, much longer than most other major airlines. As such, it has one of the oldest fleets of any American airline, with an average fleet age of 16.7 years as of 31 December 2017.[1][2] Fellow U.S. legacy carriers American Airlines and United Airlines have younger fleets; as of December 29, 2016, American had an average fleet age of 10.3 years, while United had an average fleet age of 14.1 years.[3]

Fleet overview[edit]

As of August 11, 2018, Delta's fleet consists of 887 Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas aircraft. Delta's 504 Boeing aircraft make up about 57% of its fleet, while its 231 Airbus aircraft makes about 26% and 151 McDonnell Douglas aircraft makes up about 17%. Delta's 736 narrow-body aircraft comprise about 83% of its fleet, while its 150 wide-body aircraft comprise the remaining 17%.

Delta operates the largest fleets of the Boeing 717, the Boeing 757, the Boeing 767, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 worldwide. It is one of only two airlines worldwide operating the Boeing 767-400ER (the other being United Airlines), and the only airline still operating the MD-90 in the world.

Delta has one of the oldest fleets of any American airline, with an average fleet age of 14.3 years as of 2018.[1] Its oldest aircraft types are the MD-88, MD-90, Boeing 757-200, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 767-300ER, and Airbus A320-200, which have an average age of 27.9, 21.5, 21.7, 25.1, 22.1, and 22.9 years, respectively. Its youngest aircraft types are the A321-200, A350-900 and Boeing 737-900ER, which have an average age of 2.1, 0.9 and 3.0 years, respectively.[2] While Delta is sometimes thought to always purchase older generation or used aircraft, this is not always the case, as evidenced by its order of 25 A350s and 25 A330neo aircraft in November 2014 and its order of 75 Bombardier CS100 aircraft in April 2016. In addition, Delta ordered 100 A321neo aircraft to replace its aging 757s and MD-90s. These new A321neo aircraft are expected to be delivered starting in 2020, and will continue deliveries through 2023.

Delta primarily uses its narrow-body aircraft for domestic flights within the United States and for international flights from the United States to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Most of its McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and Boeing 717 aircraft are based out of Atlanta, where they are mainly used for short-haul flights.[4] Its A320 aircraft, Boeing 737, and Boeing 757 aircraft are used for short-haul flights and medium-haul transcontinental flights. A few of its Boeing 757-200 aircraft are used on long and thin flights to Europe. Delta primarily uses its wide-body aircraft for long-haul flights to Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and South America, though some Boeing 767-300 (non-ER) aircraft operate domestic flights within the United States. Its A330s, Boeing 767-300ERs,[5] and Boeing 767-400ERs mainly operate flights to Europe. Its Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 777-200s mainly operate flights to Asia.

Recent developments[edit]

From the merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008 until April 5, 2016, Delta added more than 200 aircraft to its fleet, including A320s, A330-300s, Boeing 737-900ERs, Boeing 757-200s, and McDonnell Douglas MD-90s. The majority of these aircraft were delivered between 2013 and 2016 at a pace of about five aircraft a month.[6] During this period Delta also refurbished all mainline aircraft and all two-class regional jets with Economy Comfort seats, with international aircraft receiving Economy Comfort seats in 2011 and domestic aircraft receiving Economy Comfort seats in 2012.[7] On August 25, 2011, Delta ordered 100 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft for delivery between 2013 and 2018 as it retires older mainline jets and upgrades its fleet. The new aircraft are intended to improve the company's profitability.[8]

In 2010 Delta had deferred the Boeing 787-8 deliveries until at least 2020 in an attempt to reduce capital spending. When Delta ordered 100 Boeing 737-900ERs in 2011, it negotiated the right to substitute them for the Boeing 787-8 orders on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Also, since Delta has ordered 60 Airbus wide body-aircraft since 2013, it has no need for additional wide-body aircraft in the next few years, especially given the current overcapacity on international routes as of 2017.[9] On December 27, 2016, Delta cancelled the order for 18 Boeing 787-8 aircraft placed in 2005 by Northwest Airlines prior to their merger.[10]

Fleet expansion with used aircraft[edit]

Between 2009 and 2013, Delta purchased and refurbished 49 used MD-90s, bringing its MD-90 fleet to 65 aircraft. Delta opted to buy used MD-90s rather than brand-new Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft because the MD-90s were cheaper in terms of the total cost of ownership, which takes capital expenses and operating expenses into account.[11] In early 2011, Delta began to discuss replacement plans for the DC-9, older A320, and 757-200 aircraft with manufacturers Airbus, Boeing, and Bombardier.[12]

On May 22, 2012, Delta agreed to sublease 88 AirTran Boeing 717 aircraft from Southwest Airlines. These used aircraft were primarily intended to replace inefficient 50-seat regional jets flown by Delta Connection and some older DC-9s.[13] The Boeing 717s were scheduled to enter service over a three-year period: 16 in 2013, an additional 36 in 2014, and the remaining 36 in 2015.[14] Delta bought three additional 717s from Finnish airline Blue1 in 2015, bringing its total to 91 aircraft.[15] Delta Air Lines officially retired its DC-9s from mainline service on January 6, 2014;[16] however, two DC-9s continued to be used on an as-needed basis until January 22 because of delayed Boeing 717 deliveries.[17] Delta currently operates the last production model of the MD-90-30 (Registration N965DN).[18]

Airbus orders[edit]

On September 4, 2013, Delta ordered 10 Airbus A330-300s and 30 A321s, with the A330s to be delivered between 2015 and 2017 and the A321s to be delivered between 2016 and 2017. With this order Delta became the launch customer for the enhanced 242-ton maximum takeoff weight A330-300,[19] which is slightly more fuel-efficient and thus has greater payload capacity and range.[20] On June 2, 2014, Delta ordered an additional 15 A321 aircraft to be delivered starting in 2018, bringing its A321 order total to 45 aircraft.[21]On April 29, 2016, Delta announced an order for 37 additional A321s to be delivered through 2019, bringing its A321 order total to 82 aircraft.[22] On May 11, 2017, Delta announced an order for 30 additional A321 aircraft to bring its total to 112.[23] On June 20, 2017, Delta announced an order for 10 additional A321 aircraft to bring its total to 122.[24]

On November 20, 2014, Delta ordered 50 Airbus wide-body jets to replace its aging Boeing 747-400s and 767-300ERs. 25 A350-900 aircraft will be delivered beginning in 2017 and will replace Delta's Boeing 747-400s on routes to Asia. 25 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft will be delivered beginning in 2019 and will replace 767-300ERs on routes to Europe and on certain routes between the West Coast and Asia.[25]

On December 14, 2017, Delta announced a 100 firm and 100 option order for the Airbus A321neo aircraft with deliveries beginning in 2020 and continuing through 2023. The aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared-turbofan engines, and will seat 197 passengers. The aircraft will replace ageing Airbus A320s, Boeing 757-200s and MD-90s.[26][27]

Additional narrow-body orders[edit]

On June 10, 2015, Delta announced it would acquire 20 used Embraer 190s and order 40 new Boeing 737-900ERs upon pilot ratification of a tentative labor agreement.[28] However, on July 15, 2015, Delta cancelled the orders after pilots rejected the tentative contract proposal.[29] Then, on December 16, 2015, Delta re-announced the order for 20 used Embraer 190s and 20 new Boeing 737-900ERs, bringing its 737-900ER order total to 120 aircraft.[30] On April 12, 2017, Delta disclosed in its quarterly financial filing that it had ordered an additional 10 737-900ERs from Boeing in the first quarter of 2017, bringing its order total to 130 aircraft.[31]

On April 28, 2016, Delta announced an order for 75 Bombardier CS100s (now known as Airbus A220-100, options for 50 additional C Series aircraft and the ability to substitute to the larger CS300 aircraft. C Series deliveries will begin in 2018. It was also announced that the 20 Embraer 190s would not join the fleet.[32]

Current fleet[edit]

The following table represents Delta Air Lines mainline fleet types and layouts in service as of August 14, 2018.[2][33][34]

Delta Air Lines fleet
Aircraft In
service
Orders Passengers Notes
F O S C+ M Total
Airbus A220-100 75 12 15 82 109 Deliveries scheduled to begin fall 2018.[32]
Airbus A319-100 57 12 18 102 132
Airbus A320-200 62 16 18 126 160 Standardization at 157 seats by the end of 2018.[35]
123 157
Airbus A321-200 59 67 20 29 143 192 Deliveries through 2021.[23]
Replacing McDonnell Douglas MD-88, MD-90 and older Boeing 757-200.[36]
Airbus A321neo 100 20 30 147 197 Deliveries scheduled to begin 2020.[27]
Airbus A330-200 11 34 32 168 234 To be retrofitted with Premium Select seats by 2021.[37]
Airbus A330-300 31 34 40 219 293 To be retrofitted with Premium Select seats by 2021.[37]
Airbus A330-900neo 25 29 28 40 184 281 Deliveries scheduled to begin in 2020.[1]
To replace older Boeing 767-300ERs.[25]
Airbus A350-900 11 14 32 48 226 306 Deliveries through 2022.[38][23]
First Airbus A350 operator in United States.
Boeing 717-200 91 12 20 78 110
Boeing 737-700 10 12 18 94 124
Boeing 737-800 77 16 36 108 160
Boeing 737-900ER 102 28 20 21 139 180 Deliveries through 2019.[30]
Replacing McDonnell Douglas MD-88, MD-90 and older Boeing 757-200.[39]
Boeing 757-200 111 16 44 108 168 11 in charter service. Largest operator of the Boeing 757-200.
20 29 150 199
41 132 193
Boeing 757-300 16 24 32 178 234
Boeing 767-300 2 30 35 196 261 To be phased out in 2018.
Boeing 767-300ER 56 26 29 171 226 Older aircraft to be replaced by Airbus A330-900neo and Airbus A350-900.[5]
To be retrofitted with Premium Select seats by 2021.[37]
35 165
36 29 143 208
32 211
Boeing 767-400ER 21 40 28 178 246 To be retrofitted with Premium Select seats by 2021.[37]
Boeing 777-200ER 8 37 36 218 291 To be retrofitted with Delta One Suites & Premium Select seats in 2018.[40][41]
New Cabin with O28/S48/M220
Boeing 777-200LR 10
McDonnell Douglas MD-88 100 16 25 108 149 Actively being phased out.
Being replaced by Airbus A321-200 and Boeing 737-900ER.
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 50 16 25 117 158
Total 885 309

Fleet timeline[edit]

Historical Delta Air Lines fleet[edit]

Delta Air Lines had an all-Boeing (including McDonnell Douglas aircraft) fleet until its merger with Northwest Airlines.

Retired fleet[edit]

Delta Air Lines Retired Fleet
Aircraft Year Retired Replacement
Douglas DC-6 1968[43] Douglas DC-8, McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Douglas DC-7 1968[44] Douglas DC-8
Convair 340/440 1970[45] McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Convair CV-880 1973 Boeing 727-200
Douglas DC-8-51 1981[46] Boeing 757-200
Boeing 747-100 1977[47] Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
Boeing 747-200F 2009 Was going to be acquired from Northwest but were later cancelled.
Boeing 747-400 2017 Airbus A350-900
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 1975/1988*[48] Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
Douglas DC-8-71 1989[46] Boeing 757-200
Douglas DC-9-14 1973[49] Launch Customer
Douglas DC-9-30 1993/2010***[49] Boeing 737-200 (1993) and Boeing 717-200/CRJ-700/CRJ900/E-175/

MD-90 (2010)

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-40 2011 Boeing 717-200/CRJ-700/CRJ900/E-175/MD-90
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 2014 Boeing 717-200/CRJ-700/CRJ900/E-175/MD-80/MD-90
Fairchild Hiller FH-227 1974[50] McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Airbus A310-200/300[51][52] 1993/1995** Boeing 767-300ER
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 2001 Boeing 767-400ER
Boeing 727-100 1977[53] Boeing 727-200/McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Boeing 727-200 2003 Boeing 737-800/Boeing 757-200/MD-90
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 2004 Boeing 777-200ER (on Asian routes)
Boeing 767-400ER (on European routes)
Boeing 767-200 2006 Boeing 757-200
Boeing 767-300
Boeing 737-200 2006 Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800, MD-80, MD-90
Boeing 737-300 2006 Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800

*Delta operated the DC-10 twice, once on lease from United before the L-1011s could be delivered, and again when Delta acquired Western Airlines in 1987.

**Delta experimented with Airbus A310 aircraft for two to three years after acquiring the planes from Pan Am. Initially Delta was impressed enough with the aircraft to order more of the same model, but these were eventually withdrawn from service by the mid 1990s.

***Delta originally had DC-9-30s from 1967 to 1993. Delta sold some of their DC-9-30s back to McDonnell Douglas who sold them to ValuJet, forming ValuJet's initial fleet. ValuJet would eventually become Delta's main Atlanta-based rival, AirTran Airways. However, Delta inherited a fleet of -30s in 2008 when they had merged with Northwest Airlines. Two of these, N3322L and N3324L, had been delivered to Delta in 1967.

Delta Air Lines fleet prior to the jet era[edit]

Up until the late 1960s, Delta Air Lines operated a fleet of propeller operated aircraft, including among others, the Convair 340, Convair 440, Curtiss C-46 Commando, Douglas DC-3, Douglas DC-4, Douglas DC-6, Douglas DC-7, Lockheed Constellation, and Lockheed L-100 Hercules. The Curtiss C-46 Commando and Lockheed L-100 Hercules aircraft were operated as cargo aircraft.

Delta fleet in 1960[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 1960[54]
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Convair 440 28 0
Convair 880 0 10
Curtiss-Wright C-46 5 0 Freighter
Douglas DC-3 12 0 Includes 2 Freighters
Douglas DC-6 12 0
Douglas DC-7 10 0
Douglas DC-7B 11 0
Douglas DC-8 6 0
Total 84 10

Delta fleet in 1970[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 1970[55]
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Boeing 747-132 0 5
Douglas DC-8-61 13 0
Douglas DC-8-51 28 0
Douglas DC-9-15 15 0
Douglas DC-9-32 53 5
Convair CV-880 16 0
Lockheed L-100 Hercules 3 0 Freighter
Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 0 24
Total 128 34

Delta fleet in 1980[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 1980[56]
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Boeing 727-200 120 6
Boeing 767-232 0 20
Douglas DC-8-61 13 0
Douglas DC-9-32 41 0
Lockheed L-1011-1 29 6
Lockheed L-1011-500 2 1
Total 205 33

Delta fleet in 1990[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 1990[57]
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Boeing 727-200 130 0
Boeing 737-200 61 0
Boeing 737-300 13 0
Boeing 757-232 41 22
Boeing 767-232 15 0
Boeing 767-332 15 1
Boeing 767-332ER 0 9
Douglas DC-8-71 5 0
Douglas DC-9-32 36 0
Douglas DC-10-10 3 0
Lockheed L-1011-1 22 0
Lockheed L-1011-100 1 0
Lockheed L-1011-250 6 0
Lockheed L-1011-500 10 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 0 9
McDonnell Douglas MD-82 8 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-88 23 34
Total 389 75

Delta fleet in 2000[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 2000[58]
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Boeing 727-200 Adv 102 0
Boeing 737-200 Adv 54 0
Boeing 737-300 26 0
Boeing 737-832 27 105
Boeing 757-200 114 7
Boeing 767-232 15 0
Boeing 767-332 28 0
Boeing 767-332ER 58 1
Boeing 767-432ER 1 20
Boeing 777-232ER 1 20
Lockheed L-1011-1 25 0
Lockheed L-1011-200 1 0
Lockheed L-1011-250 6 0
Lockheed L-1011-500 15 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 15 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-88 120 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 16 0
Total 623 139

Delta fleet in 2010[edit]

Delta Air Lines fleet in 2010
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Airbus A319-100 57 5
Airbus A320-200 69 2
Airbus A330-200 11 0
Airbus A330-300 21 0
Boeing 737-700 10 0
Boeing 737-800 73 0
Boeing 747-400 16 0
Boeing 757-200 163 1
Boeing 757-300 16 0
Boeing 767-300 14 0
Boeing 767-300ER 58 0
Boeing 767-400ER 21 0
Boeing 777-200ER 8 0
Boeing 777-200LR 10 0
Boeing 787-8 0 18 Order later cancelled in 2016[59]
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-40 5 0
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 34 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-88 117 0
McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 21 13
Total 724 39

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]