Delta Airlines will further simplify its fleet by retiring three more aircraft types, it announced in a stock exchange filing on September 25.
The first to go out by December 2023 will the Bombardier CRJ200s, of which 22 are already in storage. Delta Connection operates 76 CRJ200s for regional operations, mostly by SkyWest and Endeavor Air. The aircraft are around eighteen years old.
By December 2025, the fleet will no longer have the Boeing 717 and 767-300ER either. Delta currently operates 45 717s, with the remaining 46 in storage. They are between fifteen and twenty years old. The airline has sixteen 767-300ERs in service now, with 38 in storage. These aircraft are over twenty years old.
The early phasing out of the CRJ200s, 717s and more 767-300ERs is part of Delta’s simplification strategy that primarily has cost savings in mind. Last week, the Board looked at the impairment of this fleet and concluded that the “carrying value of these aircraft was no longer recoverable when compared to their estimated remaining future cash flows. Consequently, during the September 2020 quarter, Delta expects to record non-cash impairment charges associated with these aircraft.” The airline expects this to be in the range of $2.0-2.5 billion while an immaterial amount is expected to result in future cash expenditures.
Between March and June, Delta retired all McDonnell-Douglas MD-88s, resulting in impairment costs of $22 million of this aging fleet. In June, seven 767-300ERs were retired as well (impairment $180 million) as its McDonnell-Douglas MD-90s ($330 million) and ten Airbus A320s ($60 million). By October, all 777-200s and 737-700s will have left the fleet. Impairment on the triple sevens is the highest at $1.4 billion, as these aircraft are relatively new and had received recent cabin updates. Impairment on the 737s has been $220 million.
Delta isn’t ruling out further retirements if it needs further cost savings. The airline has been bolstering its liquidity position recently by offering $2.5 billion in secure notes due in 2025 and $3.5 billion in a note that matures in 2028. Its loyalty program SkyMiles has agreed on a term loan facility of $3.0 billion. As it has secured its own facilities, Delta will no longer call on the government to provide it with a guaranteed loan of $4.6 billion that was available to the airline under the CARES act.