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Boeing’s 757 and 767 models are from another era, way back in 1978.  Yet both models soldier on.  Today we want to focus on the remarkable 767.

Look at this chart of the most recent DoT data update for the T2. Here we are, some 45 years after the 767 was launched and 42 years after its first flight, and the 767 still accounts for nearly a quarter of the US twin-aisle traffic.  Its share has dropped sharply, but as seen, post the pandemic, the 767 has held a steady market share.

The pandemic offered airlines a rare opportunity to undertake big fleet and labor resets.  American was possibly the most aggressive, cutting its 757, 767, and A330 fleets.  As the following chart illustrates, American currently operates a more simple fleet.  While that is good, the cutback on the 767 and A330 proved too much, and the airline is struggling for capacity in international markets.

Not for the first time, American overreacted. The airline management pushed back A320neo deliveries in favor of MAX, making things difficult during the MAX grounding.  Then the airline again went all-in on Boeing with the 787, which saw delivery delays.

Delta has been much more cautious – it retired a smallish fleet of 777s.  Several of them are now coming back into service with Air India.  The chart lays out the 777 retirement and its limited impact on Delta. Fortunately for Delta, it selected A350-900s and A330-900s for its fleet plan and took deliveries as they came along.  When Delta saw the market turn, it did a very good deal with LATAM, taking several A350-90ss over and adding these to its fleet.  While not configured the same as its other A350s, much to the annoyance of cabin crews, at least Delta had the capacity to offer as the travel market roared back in 2022.

Delta kept its 767 fleet largely intact, only retiring the oldest aircraft as A330-900s were delivered.  The chart shows nearly half Delta’s widebody traffic still flying on 767s.  Delta still has a lot of 757s in operation even as it takes delivery of A321neos and operates well over 100 A321ceos.

Next, let’s look at United. Here we have an airline that did not overreact during the pandemic.  It kept its 777s flying as “preighters”.  This meant a stable pilot base, and the airline also ook delivery of every 787 it could get. Like American, United has gone “all-in” for Boeing’s 787s.  Fortunately for United, many of the 787s it took delivery of are the larger -10 variant.  United was able to have the necessary capacity when the traffic recovered – it had the right aircraft and a strong pilot pool to deploy.

But United also kept its 767s on hand, and they continue to move about one-fifth of the airline’s twin-aisle traffic.  Like Delta, United is the only operator of the 767-400, which means both airlines have the largest 767 in operation.  Again a good decision because, in the current market, having capacity is crucial.

If we look at the US market in totality, meaning adding the traffic for Hawaiian, the 767 fleet carried 23% of US airline twin-aisle traffic in 1Q23.  That is a remarkable number befitting a remarkable aircraft.

Moreover, the 767 continues with new deliveries to FedEx and UPS as freighters, plus the 767-derived KC-46 tanker is also being delivered.  Airlines are slowly retiring their 767s, and many are being sent off for freighter conversions.  The 767 is a remarkable airplane.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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