American major, Delta Air Lines, has announced that it will retire its McDonnell Douglas MD88 and MD90 fleet earlier than planned as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Delta Air Lines McDonnell Douglas MD88 taxiing at Atlanta. Photo by Matt Lino | AeroNewsX
Previously, Delta Air Lines had planned to remove all of the aforementioned aircraft by the end of 2020 - brought forward 'as we reduce capacity systemwide', the carrier explained.
The two aircraft types will no longer be in service from June 2020, meaning more than 50 aircraft will be permanently retired. In February, Delta said it had 47 MD88s in the fleet and 29 MD90s. Meaning, therefore, at February levels a total of 76 aircraft will be removed from service.
Delta Air Lines' recent announcement comes following similar, drastic fleet cuts, seen predominantly in Europe with Lufthansa Group. Across the world, Boeing 767 and 747 fleets are set to reduce, in addition to Airbus A340s and A380s among other aircraft that are considered 'inefficient' or not commercially viable anymore, highlighted as a result of the pandemic.
Delta Air Lines has temporarily removed over 600 aircraft from both its mainline and regional operations within the last two months. Many executives have been clear about the effects of the coronavirus crisis, estimating a return to 2019 travel demand in two to three years' time - and sometimes longer.
American Airlines has also officially announced the retirement of four aircraft types as it reports a quarterly net-loss of $2.2 billion. This just demonstrates the substantial effect the pandemic has had on aviation - while governments have been urged, notably from the International Air Transport Association, to provide financial aid to the aviation industry, other sectors are often being prioritised.
The aviation industry isn't going to recover easily. With many anticipating a return to 2019 travel levels in a matter of years, uncertainty over connectivity and more notably jobs is set to continue for at least the next few months, or possibly years.