Delta CEO: No More Boeing 747s After 2017

Boeing 747

Delta’s CEO has announced they will be retiring the Boeing 747 fleet by 2017.

Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson, is letting consumers know that the clock is ticking for the airline’s use of the Boeing 747, saying the aircraft will be retired from its fleet by 2017.

Anderson says that it will retire the last of the sixteen remaining 747s in their fleet by the end of 2017, which he announced during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that was held on Thursday.

Although the move is not entirely shocking, Delta has announced that it will be speeding up the process of retiring the fleet, based on its restructuring of its Pacific network.

Air New Zealand flew its last 747 flight in September, retiring the fleet after replacing it with the 777 and 787.  Delta is going to use its orders of A330s to transition away from the 747, until they can be phased out by the target year of 2017.

According to USA Today:

Delta President Ed Bastian, speaking on the same call as Anderson, said Delta’s accelerated phase-out of the 747s comes as the company shifts some of its capacity on trans-Atlantic flights to routes between the USA and Asia.

Bastian added that Delta’s acquisition of Airbus 330s next year will help facilitate retirement of 747s.

More broadly, the move comes as industry analysts speculate that the 747’s days could be numbered and that Boeing will likely have to end production of its iconic jumbo jet sooner rather than later.

Boeing’s latest model of the 747 — the 747-8 Intercontinental — is its biggest and most technologically advanced passenger version of the jet. But, so far, sales of the plane have been tepid.

Recently, there has been a sharp drop in production of the aircraft.  Boeing’s production line near Seattle, Washington is down to producing about 1.5 B747 per month, down from the 6 they used to make per month during the 1990’s.

Boeing seems to suggest that there is still a long future ahead for the 747, but given the rapid pace with which airline’s are changing to other models of aircraft, it remains to be seen whether this is just hopeful optimism.

Personally, I love the 747.  I think it’s a gorgeous plane and is definitely my favorite model!  We will see what the future holds for the aircraft, but I am hoping it will be around for a good deal longer!

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