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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Delta Air Lines says it’s retiring its widebody Boeing 777s this year as the company, along with the rest of the airline industry, is reeling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Delta says that the crisis has accelerated its effort to streamline and modernize its fleet, replacing older aircraft with newer, most cost-efficient models.

“We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis,” said Gil West, Delta’s COO, in a statement.

The airline has 18 of the Boeing 777s, which have been used for two decades on long-distance routes, such as non-stop flights between Atlanta, Georgia, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The 777s will be replaced by the Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21% less fuel per seat, Delta says.

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So far, Delta has parked 650 aircraft. Earlier this year, the carrier announced the retirement of its MD-88s and MD-90s.

Like other airlines, Delta has seen demand for flights all but evaporate in the wake of the outbreak.

In a memo to employees this week, the company said it’ll likely operate with a smaller fleet, network and workforce for the next few years.

The company told its workers that it’s currently losing around $50 million a day, saying that retiring jets, such as the 777s, will substantially help stem the bleeding.

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