Delta pares fleet for efficiency

jegermeister

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Delta pares fleet for efficiency

By DAVE HIRSCHMAN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/23/05 Anyone with a mismatched wardrobe can understand how Delta Air Lines assembled a hodgepodge of 14 aircraft types over the years.
Some planes just seemed to fit certain markets. Others were too good a bargain to pass up. A few were inherited.
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DELTA'S MIX 'N' MATCH FLEET
Over the years Delta has amassed a fleet of 14 aircraft types, boosting maintenance and training costs. Now it's trying to thin them out.
Expendable now:
767-200 (14) 115 seats
737-200 (40) 128 seats
737-300 (21) 198 seats
Next to go:
MD-88 (120) 160 seats
MD-90 (16) 160 seats Keepers:
737-800 (71) 162 seats
757s (121) 178 seats
767-300 (28) 269 seats
767-300ER (59) 269 seats
767-400 (21) 304 seats
777 (8) 451 seats
Delta Connection planes:
CRJ 100/200 (243)
CRJ 700 (62)
ATR 72 (12)

Now, Delta seems intent on shedding its aging patchwork of varied jets in bankruptcy court and rebuilding around simpler, more fuel-efficient Boeings that come in three sizes: small, medium and large.
Stubby 737s will become the workhorse on short-haul routes, 757s/767s will fly longer domestic and some international trips, and massive 777s will be the mainstay for intercontinental flights.
There's also a possibility Delta could buy Boeing's ultralong-range 787 after the airline emerges from bankruptcy court.
That puts older 737s and 767-200s on the chopping block. And MD-88s and MD-90s — currently among the most numerous planes in the Delta fleet — are likely to go away gradually over the next five years as Delta replaces them with newer models.
"Fleet simplification has many economic benefits," said Michael Allen, an airline consultant at BACK Aviation Solutions. "It's part of Delta's transformation plan – and this is the time for Delta to get its fleet and its network right."
Under Chapter 11, Delta can unilaterally break aircraft leases, and Allen said Delta has indicated it will cancel contracts on "large numbers of aircraft."
Delta stopped flying three-engine 727s and MD-11s before landing in Chapter 11. And Allen said the company is following a pattern set by rival American Airlines, which went from 14 aircraft types four years ago to six today.
Delta declined to discuss its long-term fleet plans for this article.
But the company said as it entered bankruptcy protection last month that it intends to "simplify and streamline its fleet by targeting four aircraft types to be removed by the end of 2006."
Training, maintenance
Why does the number of airplane models matter?
Airlines with more types of planes generally spend more money on crew training and maintenance. For instance, it typically takes about six weeks for pilots to become qualified in a new aircraft, and they are motivated to switch regularly to gain promotions and pay rate increases.
Also, fewer aircraft types can make maintenance more predictable, and require fewer spare parts in inventory.
"It's hard to quantify the advantages of having fewer aircraft types," said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at the Teal Group. "But when you look around the industry, the carriers with simple fleets tend to do a lot better."
Southwest Airlines pioneered operating with a single type of airplane and has stuck with 737s throughout its history. Other start-ups like AirTran and JetBlue have followed, though each now operates two types of aircraft.
It's not possible for all airlines to keep things as simple as Southwest, which doesn't fly internationally or to many small markets served by regional jets. But experts say most would benefit from some thinning out.
"Commonality lowers maintenance and training costs and simplifies logistics," said Peter Arment, vice president at JSA Research, an aerospace consulting firm. "There are so many advantages that it becomes imperative. It ultimately has to happen for an airline to be successful."
Plan began in 1997
Delta actually launched its fleet simplification plan in 1997, when it inked a 20-year plane-buying deal with Boeing and chose a lengthened version of the 767 to replace Lockheed L-1011s.
The airline had split orders between Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, a practice that gave it bargaining leverage. Then McDonnell Douglas was absorbed by Boeing, and Delta elected not to do business with Airbus.
At the time, Delta executives spoke of a day when variously sized 737s, 757s, 767s and 777s would make up the entire fleet.
The biggest hurdle might be getting rid of the far more numerous MD-88s and MD-90s. Delta owns most of these planes, and there are no ready buyers. Also, they can be competitive on domestic routes — particularly if fuel prices drop.
"Delta has gone after the low-hanging fruit so far," Aboulafia said. "Selling the MD-11s was a no-brainer because the cargo operators love them and are willing to pay decent prices. And no one wants to fly 727s with today's fuel prices. It's cheaper to just park them in the desert."
New jets likely in the works
If Delta pares its fleet to 737s, 757/767s and 777s, all of its airplanes would be two-pilot, twin-engine Boeings with many similarities.
Delta had more than 600 airplanes in 2001 when the industry began its rapid contraction following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It now has about 500, and that number is likely to fall as it terminates leases on older planes.
Delta still has its long-term buying deal with Boeing, though it has canceled some orders or options. But Aboulafia said the Atlanta-based airline is likely to continue revamping its fleet with newer jets even while it reorganizes in bankruptcy court. Delta has options to buy about 70 new 737s.
"The 737 is the gold standard for domestic flying," he said. "And the 777 is best in class for international. Delta just has to get rid of the overlap in the rest of its fleet."
 

General Lee

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The MD88 and MD90 fleet is CURRENTLY due to leave in the 2011/2012 time frame. If better offers come before that, then maybe they will leave earlier, or if lessors find better deals. Not many airlines fly the MD88 except Midwest. Aliegent maybe could find room, but they want very low lease rates too since they fly mainly cheap gamblers to LAS. We tried to sell our MD90s to China Eastern Airlines last year, (they have 20 or so), but they didn't want them. So, right now we are negotiating with the MD88 lessors for better deals.

I have a feeling that we will eventually have a mostly 737 domestic fleet (all the way up to the 739, maybe with some E190s in there too), and then a 777 or 787 INTL fleet (in 10-15 years---if we are around in 10-15 years).


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

G4G5

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In Bk DAL could drop the MD90 leases, IMHO they will. I would also expect to see a renegotiated MD88 lease. The MD88's are far superior to the MD82's that AA flies
 

BeCareful!

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jegermeister said:
Expendable now:
767-200 (14) 115 seats
737-200 (40) 128 seats
737-300 (21) 198 seats


Hey, I see the whole problem! You guys have been flying 767's around with only 115 seats. Very wasteful. Stop it!

You should be able to emerge from CH11 much sooner now. I'll send my invoice for consultant services to the ATL offices.

Good day.
 

General Lee

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G4G5 said:
In Bk DAL could drop the MD90 leases, IMHO they will. I would also expect to see a renegotiated MD88 lease. The MD88's are far superior to the MD82's that AA flies

And, why again will they do that? We still have a SLC hub, and we just announced the departure (eventual departure) of the 737-300 fleet out there. So, that leaves us with the MD90s, which can handle the high/hot combo of SLC flying in the Summer. I know AA flies MD82s out to SLC, but for some reason (probably single engline turning radius in the mountains) Delta likes the MD90s out there. And, I believe we own them. (thus trying to sell them to China Eastern) The only other airline in the world that operates MD88s (other than Midwest) is Iberia (gained from the merger with Aviaco), and they are dumping them for new Airbi (A319s and A320s). The only other airline that owns MD90s besides China Eastern (also getting new Airbi) is Hello Airlines (a Swiss Charter) and another airline in Malta that flies one on English charters. The MD90s have movie screens in the back for the pax, and are nicer and newer than the MD88s. I think you might be wrong.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 
Last edited:

General Lee

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BeCareful! said:
Hey, I see the whole problem! You guys have been flying 767's around with only 115 seats. Very wasteful. Stop it!

You should be able to emerge from CH11 much sooner now. I'll send my invoice for consultant services to the ATL offices.

Good day.

We got the 767-200s first, before the 757s even came around. The thing that is nice about the 767-200 is the cargo space. But, they are mx hogs at times, and they are starting to show their age. Why don't you tell CAL to also dump their new 767-200ERs? They also have less seats, yet they just got 10 new ones over the last few years. Flying the new ones to Europe along with the cargo space may make money, but the DL ones to LAS probably do not.


Bye Bye--General Lee
 

Neubyfly

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BeCareful! said:
Hey, I see the whole problem! You guys have been flying 767's around with only 115 seats. Very wasteful. Stop it!

You should be able to emerge from CH11 much sooner now. I'll send my invoice for consultant services to the ATL offices.

Good day.

Yeah but they are getting 198 pax on the 737-300s. Very impressive! Must be small folks!
 

G4G5

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General Lee said:
And, why again will they do that? We still have a SLC hub, and we just announced the departure (eventual departure) of the 737-300 fleet out there. So, that leaves us with the MD90s, which can handle the high/hot combo of SLC flying in the Summer. I know AA flies MD82s out to SLC, but for some reason (probably single engline turning radius in the mountains) Delta likes the MD90s out there. And, I believe we own them. (thus trying to sell them to China Eastern) The only other airline in the world that operates MD88s (other than Midwest) is Iberia (gained from the merger with Aviaco), and they are dumping them for new Airbi (A319s and A320s). The only other airline that owns MD90s besides China Eastern (also getting new Airbi) is Hello Airlines (a Swiss Charter) and another airline in Malta that flies one on English charters. The MD90s have movie screens in the back for the pax, and are nicer and newer than the MD88s. I think you might be wrong.


Bye Bye--General Lee

Real simple, they want to get rid of fleet types. With just 16 MD90's it hardly justifies keeping an airframe that has different engines and parts (tail section, yada yada) then the 120 MD88s. If they own them they will park them and then find a buyer (like AA did with the F100s). If they leased them they will be gone even sooner.

Something tells me that they will be able to find something to operate out of SLC, assuming that SLC remains anywhere near its current size.
 

skiddriver

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General Lee said:
We got the 767-200s first, before the 757s even came around. The thing that is nice about the 767-200 is the cargo space. But, they are mx hogs at times, and they are starting to show their age. Why don't you tell CAL to also dump their new 767-200ERs? They also have less seats, yet they just got 10 new ones over the last few years. Flying the new ones to Europe along with the cargo space may make money, but the DL ones to LAS probably do not.


Bye Bye--General Lee

General,

Sometimes I have to wonder about how swift you really are. He was making a funny about the obvious typos in the seat counts listed in the article. Not every post is a criticism of your beloved Mother D.
 

737 Pylt

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Now if we could only pare managment for efficency.
DAL has cut 16,000 jobs since 9/11 and not ONE has come from management.
In 1992 there were 54 upper level management position. Today there are nearly triple that! Managment at airlines (DAL in particular) are crooks, plain and simple! Take care of yourself is all they care about. And the public wonders why the legacy carriers are in such dire straits!
737
 

HowlinMadMurdoc

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General Lee said:
Delta likes the MD90s out there. And, I believe we own them. (thus trying to sell them to China Eastern) The only other airline in the world that operates MD88s (other than Midwest)...The MD90s have movie screens in the back for the pax, and are nicer and newer than the MD88s.
Bye Bye--General Lee
Tell you what...have Gerald dial 1-414-570-4000 and ask for Uncle Timmy. Maybe Midwest can take those MD90's off your hands at Delta and use them as replacements for our gas-guzzling MD80-type fleet.

Nah, that won't happen...Timmy is too busy rearranging the chairs on the deck of the, er, uh nevermind.

HMM
 

snow-back

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BeCareful! said:
Hey, I see the whole problem! You guys have been flying 767's around with only 115 seats. Very wasteful. Stop it!

You should be able to emerge from CH11 much sooner now. I'll send my invoice for consultant services to the ATL offices.

Good day.


Yeah, but we get 451 in the 777...and those 8 (yes, that's all we have) aircraft are going to be the mainstay for the intercontinental flights. This guy lost all credibility before he even got into the subject of his article.

Typical media.
 

tuna pimp

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General Lee said:
The only other airline that owns MD90s besides China Eastern (also getting new Airbi) is Hello Airlines (a Swiss Charter) and another airline in Malta that flies one on English charters.

I think the Saudis have MD90's as well. They are few and far between. Though the B717 started out as the 'MD95', correct? So it's a derivative of the MD90 of sorts.

It's going to be a while before DL dumps the MD88s. Priority now is on getting a 100 seater into the fleet. 787 or 777-200LR would be the next most likely fleet addition given the recent push for Int'l growth.

Wonder if there are any ways to make the MD88s quieter/less thirsty like what was done to the 727s back 10-15 years ago to keep them flying economically a bit longer.
 

tuna pimp

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737 Pylt said:
Now if we could only pare managment for efficency.
DAL has cut 16,000 jobs since 9/11 and not ONE has come from management.
In 1992 there were 54 upper level management position. Today there are nearly triple that! Managment at airlines (DAL in particular) are crooks, plain and simple! Take care of yourself is all they care about. And the public wonders why the legacy carriers are in such dire straits!
737

What amazes me is how much the Directors (& VPs) lot at the DL GO has grown over the past 3 or so years. Ridiculous!
 

doh

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Alright, since nobody else is asking, how will this affect recalls. Will there be more furloughs. Let's hope not, cause more bad news is not what we need!:uzi:
 
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