Delta Retiring CRJ-200 By 2023, 717 & 767-300 By 2025

Filed Under: Delta

In a Form 8-K filing, Delta Air Lines has revealed some updated timelines for aircraft retirements. Interestingly these aren’t immediate, but rather retirements we can expect in the next three to five years.

Delta’s upcoming aircraft retirements

Delta Air Lines has revealed specific plans to retire three fleet types in the next five years:

  • Delta will retire CRJ-200s by December 2023
  • Delta will retire 717-200s by December 2025
  • Delta will retire 767-300ERs by December 2025

Delta will retire Boeing 717s by 2025

All of these retirements are earlier than initially scheduled. This is part of Delta’s fleet simplification strategy, intended to streamline and modernize Delta’s fleet, enhance the customer experience, and generate cost savings.

Based on an analysis, Delta has decided that the carrying value of these aircraft was no longer recoverable when compared to the estimated remaining future cash flows. Delta expects the aggregate impairment and other related charges to be in the range of $2.0-2.5 billion.

Delta seems pretty certain about this decision as of now, but may consider other opportunities for early aircraft retirements in an effort to modernize and simplify its fleet.

All of this is in addition to Delta’s decision to immediately retire its entire Boeing 777 fleet. Let’s take a look at this decision on Delta’s part in a bit more detail.

Delta’s CRJ-200 will be retired by 2023

CRJ-200s aren’t operated directly by Delta, but rather by Delta Connection, Delta’s regional subsidiary. Currently there are a total of 100 CRJ-200s in service, which are an average of nearly 18 years old.

What makes this move fairly significant is that the CRJ-200 is the smallest plane in the Delta Connection fleet, with just 50 seats. Unlike other airlines, Delta Connection doesn’t operate any 50 seat ERJ-145s, for example.

In other words, once the CRJ-200 is retired, Delta Connection’s smallest aircraft will have around 70 seats. Presumably there are some markets in which a 50 seat jet works, while a 70 seat jet doesn’t.

This also means that all Delta jets will feature a premium cabin, since the CRJ-200 was the only plane in Delta’s fleet to not feature one.

The CRJ-700 will be Delta’s smallest jet by 2023

Delta’s 717-200 will be retired by 2025

Delta has a total of 88 Boeing 717-200s in its fleet, which are an average of about 19 years old. The 717 is essentially an updated version of the MD-80, and these are all planes that Delta acquired from AirTran.

These planes have just 110 seats each, so they’re among the smallest planes in Delta’s mainline fleet. Delta has about 95 Airbus A220s on order, which are roughly the same size as the 717s, and will be used to replace them.

It sure sounds to me like Delta will essentially be retiring 717s as it takes delivery of A220s, which means capacity for Delta’s smallest mainline jets will more or less stay constant. It will be a big upgrade for the passenger experience, though, as A220s feature personal televisions at every seat, and a more comfortable cabin.

To me this announcement isn’t surprising. If anything, I’m surprised 717s aren’t being retired sooner. Still, it reflects that even five years down the road Delta isn’t expecting to be a larger airline.

Delta will replace 717s with A220s

Delta’s 767-300 will be retired by 2025

Delta has a total of 56 Boeing 767-300s in its fleet, which are an average of about 23 years old. These are Delta’s lowest capacity wide body jets, and are used for all kinds of routes domestically, as well as routes to Europe and South America.

This retirement is also logical enough. While Delta doesn’t have a replacement aircraft for this:

  • Delta plans to continue to fly Boeing 757-200s, which can operate many of the shorter transatlantic flights
  • Delta will still have 767-400s and A330s, which are higher capacity but still capable of operating many similar routes

It does seem like this will ultimately cause Delta to drop some of the longer and thinner transatlantic routes, though. While the 757 can make it to Ireland and Scotland, it can’t operate most flights further East in Europe.

It still seems like Delta needs a long-term replacement for long and thin routes. Unlike American and United, Delta hasn’t ordered the A321XLR.

I won’t miss Delta’s 767-300 business class

Bottom line

Delta will retire its entire CRJ-200 fleet by the end of 2023, and its entire 717 and 767-300 fleet by the end of 2025. Ultimately this isn’t too surprising, though it’s still interesting to hear an official timeline.

The way I view it:

  • The CRJ-200 retirement will mean that Delta will no longer have any 50 seat jets at its subsidiaries, and it also means that all jets will feature a premium cabin
  • The 717 retirement shouldn’t have too many implications, since Delta is taking delivery of A220s
  • The 767 retirement also shouldn’t be too bad, since most routes can be operated by 757s or A330s; still, Delta needs a long-term replacement for long and thin routes

What do you make of Delta’s retirement plans for these three fleets?

  1. Delta said a couple of years ago that the CRJ 200s were being phased out. It never happened.

    And going from a 767 to a 757 on European flights is a downgrade since business-class is 1x2x1 on the 767 and 2×2 on the 757. I suspect Delta will drop some European routes and instead lean more on Air France and KLM.

  2. Not surprised to see this announcement as these aircraft have had no cabin retrofits with aged airframes. I’ve heard the CRJ200 has been very unpopular for both passengers and crew (underpowered and cabin easily gets too hot in the summer). Depending on contractual requirements they may need to follow United’s lead to reconfigure some CRJ700s with 50 seats as a CRJ550. As for the 763, my guess is that Delta will looking to replace part of the fleet by acquiring some available A332 aircraft and perhaps even order the A338 NEO (speculative of course). I wouldn’t be surprised if they place an order at some point for the A321LR or XLR for the longer thinner routes as the 752 fleet is getting up there in age too. Ultimately, Delta was hoping for the Boeing NMA to come to fruition, which doesn’t look likely to happen in the next 5+ years, which will require a different fleet plan by expanding on their existing long-term common aircraft types (Airbus). The 764 will be an interesting one to watch as it will be considered to be a sub-fleet with the 763 gone- although at least shares the common type rating with the 752/753 aircraft.

  3. The 767-300ER fleet at DL was significantly overhauled starting around 2008-2009 and into the early part of the last decade. They all sport though a dated premium cabin, and are likely coming up on their next heavy maintenance checks. There is a bit of a backlog of A330s but this all points to DL likely axing permanently a lot of the long and thin routes that the 763 was perfect for.

  4. My suspicion is that DL, which we know loves buying used airplanes on the cheap, expects the market to be flooded with frames over the next five years. It wouldn’t surprise me if they bought some additional 330s on the cheap to operate those long, thin routes.

  5. Itā€™ll be very interesting to see where those 717s end up. My understanding is that they are quite popular on the second hand market, and Delta has sunk a lot of money into keeping them in tip-top condition.

  6. I hope Hawaiian does not pick up those 717s… they will be 20+ years old if they do… please get the a220 for the interisland fleet…

  7. @Greg – I was wondering the same thing, if HA would pick up the 717s. I wonder if the A220 would perform comparably? The inter-island market is challenging because of the short segments, is my understanding.

  8. Ugh, PLEASE do not keep that tired Delta One on JFK to LAX. We deserve better. With the price wars going on and Delta still not serving hot meals, I will be booking the other carriers Transcon for now.

  9. Don’t retire the 717s…the last of the mainline t-tails – super quiet up front, nice handling, great 2×3 layout in economy class

  10. Will Delta eventually retire the remaining Boeing 737, 757 and 767 and go all Airbus?

    Perhaps swapping some of the B737’s with Alaska’s ex-VX A320/321?

  11. Curious if JFK LAX will go small to 757 or the nicely refurbished 764, or something else. What do you think?

  12. Even with the older Delta One seats on the 767-300, I still found them to be incredibly comfortable. I have flown on Delta One on 767-300’s perhaps a dozen times. The longest flight was SEA-ICN, and it was splendid. I will miss them.

    I love the B717 (or MD95 as I prefer to think of them). It flies like a VERY quiet fighter jet. I will miss them. I don’t care that they have no seat back entertainment. It forced me to look out the window at the truly best show!

    I detest the CRJ200, and have from the get go, however the time I was “sentenced” to flying on them from Birmingham to Sacramento with stops in Houston and Salt Lake City is something I still have nightmares about. Good riddance.

  13. Most of the 717’s are on a lease and rumor is going around that Delta could make a trade for some Max10’s in 2025 for the 757’s replacements. The a320’s need to go also most of them are getting close to 30 years old.

  14. DL 757 to Europe is a horrible inflight experience, once had them jfk-cdg just feels so cramped on long flight without space to stretch out

  15. The co-timing on the 717 and 767 seems suspicious to me, perhaps there is a deal in place for a large NMA order in the works and this is an indication that delta is serious about the next generation of widebodies

  16. No, not the 717! I used to like these airplanes a lot and sometimes would fly a bit earlier or later just to be on one šŸ™

  17. First ever flight in the DL 767 Delta One – couldn’t find the Ent. screen remote (and touchscreen was shotty). Can’t say I will miss them, but they are what I have flown most of my DL One trips to Europe on.

    717’s – agree with most of those on here. Stubby MD80/90, never sure the age would keep it in the air, but extremely pleasant to fly in and handled the bumps REALLY well.

    200’s – Retire them NOW. I would purposely set myself up with a 5 hour layover in Detroit just so I could ride in the 700 or 900 for the 1hr-10 min flight and avoid that tin-can!

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