Airlines Aviation News Delta Air Lines North America

The Delta Air Lines Fleet – Peculiarities Of a Huge Airline

Delta has steadily grown to become the US’s largest and most profitable airline. From its hubs it transports passengers across the globe. Such a huge operation needs a just as huge fleet to make all operations flow seamlessly day in and day out. Before kicking things off let’s talk about how we got to the modern Delta we all know today. Modern Delta is the result of a series of acquisitions that have taken place during its almost 100 years of activity. From 1929, when it started operations as a small crop dusting airline, to today DL has acquired:

  • Northeast Airlines in 1972
  • Western Airlines in 1987
  • Northwest Airlines in 2008

It is the acquisition of Northwest Airlines which left the strongest mark on Delta’s current fleet as we will see.

The Peculiarity of Delta’s Fleet Compared to American and United

When we compare the Delta fleet to those of American Airlines and United one thing sticks out immediately. Delta has the largest number of Airbus produced planes. Something that the airline inherited from the acquisition that moulded the Delta Air Lines we all know today.

The younger readers might not know this but Delta acquired in 2008 struggling carrier Northwest Airlines. Northwest had gone into financial difficulties in the wake of September 11th. With this airline operating most of its European routes with a fleet of Airbus A330s. Also the airline used to have quite a high number of A320s and A319s in its fleet. These planes were used to operate flights domestically.

Therefore once the acquisition was completed Delta incorporated into its own fleet these Airbus planes. From there onwards the airline has continued to have a strong percentage of European manufactured aircraft in its fleet. Still today most long haul operations are offered aboard Airbus A330s or A350s.

To simplify this fleet analysis I’ll split it into two. We’ll look at the Boeing portion of the fleet and then the Airbus one.

What does The Delta Fleet Look Like in 2024?

The Boeing Fleet – Mainly Older or Narrow Body Planes

Delta operates 4 Boeing aircraft types. However only one of them is a wide body, double aisle, aircraft. The planes are not the most modern or the latest models built by the Seattle based manufacturer. An indication of how much the airline has invested in Airbus products for its fleet in recent years.

239 Boeing 737

  • 76 Boeing 737-800
  • 163 Boeing 737-900

118 Boeing 757

  • 102 Boeing 757-200
  • 16 Boeing 757-300

65 Boeing 767

  • 44 Boeing 767-300
  • 21 Boeing 767-400

76 Boeing 717

  • 76 Boeing 717-200

The Boeing 737s and 717s are utilised for domestic services. They fly only within the United States or on short international routes to central America and Canada. Interestingly Delta doesn’t own any 737 MAX planes nor does it own any 777s. A decision which has protected the carrier from disruptions in recent times caused by groundings and certification delays.

Looking at Boeing aircraft that Delta does own and operate in its fleet, the carrier uses both the 767 and 757 on high demand national flights and transatlantic sectors. The 757 is quite the handy plane as it allows to serve secondary airports that can’t sustain the capacity of the much larger wide bodies. However these planes are ageing and Delta has on order the A321LR and XLR that would be the natural replacement for the 757 on those thin and long routes. also Delta is the largest operator of the 757 worldwide. Although these jets are ageing, there isn’t a hard date for their retirement.

Date that on the other hand we already have for the retirement of the 767. The twin engine wide body jet should be exiting the Delta fleet by 2030. Just for context, the oldest 767 still operating in Delta’s fleet is as old as I am, 34 years old.

Which planes does Delta fly and own?

Delta’s Airbus Fleet – The Backbone Long And ULR Operations

The Airbus portion of the fleet has a heavy presence of smaller single aisle planes used mainly on domestic routes. However the wide bodies present are the backbone of the long range and ultra long range operations for the airline. The airline operates all of its ULR operations across the pacific using its A330s and A350s.

53 Airbus A319

  • 53 Airbus A319-100

59 Airbus A320

  • 59 Airbus A320-200

181 Airbus A321

  • 54 Airbus A321neo
  • 127 Airbus A321-200

69 Airbus A330

  • 11 Airbus A330-200
  • 31 Airbus A330-300
  • 27 Airbus A330-900

29 Airbus A350

  • 29 Airbus A350-900

59 Airbus A220

  • 35 Airbus A220-100
  • 24 Airbus A220-300

Also we can see Delta onboarding more and more new generation planes such as the A321neo, the A330-900 and the A350. Also regarding the latter of the 3 planes mentions the A350-100 variant is also expected to enter the Delta fleet in coming years.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.

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