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US carrier Delta Air Lines has considered retiring its fleet of Boeing 777s to cut costs due to a steep fall in passenger traffic as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

It also plans to retire other older high-maintenance jets.

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Retiring 18 Boeing 777 jets and MD-90 planes by the end of the year would lead to non-cash impairment charges of $1.4bn to $1.7bn before tax in its second-quarter.

Meanwhile, the company plans to leverage its fuel-efficient and cost-effective A330 and A350-900 wide-body planes for long-haul operation once international demand resumes.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian’s memo said: “Our principal financial goal for 2020 is to reduce our cash burn to zero by the end of the year, which will mean, for the next two to three years, a smaller network, fleet and operation in response to substantially reduced customer demand.

“Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision. I know it has a direct impact on many of you who fly, crew and service these jets.”

Last month, the company announced its plan to reduce its total capacity by 85%, including domestic capacity by 80% and international by 90% for the June quarter as part of its efforts to address Covid-19 challenges.

In March, Delta Air Lines decided to ground nearly 600 aircraft, as passenger operations collapsed globally due to the pandemic.

Global confirmed cases on Covid-19 is 4,443,793 cases while the death toll stands at 302,462.