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Delta to retire 747s by 2017

Delta Air Lines will phase out the Boeing 747 from its fleet by 2017.

The SkyTeam carrier said earlier this year it will retire four 747-400s "early" by end-2014 as part of a plan to restructure its Pacific network.

Delta chief executive Richard Anderson says today that three aircraft were retired in September and another one will leave the fleet this quarter.

Four more aircraft will be retired in 2015, and the remainder will exit the fleet by 2017, says Anderson in an earnings call.

Delta was able to accelerate the 747 retirements as it deploys smaller gauge widebodies from its Atlantic segment to serve its Pacific routes, which have seen pressure in revenues and yields.

The smaller gauge aircraft are being freed up from Delta limiting its growth in the Atlantic to 1-3% this winter season. Anderson says the growth is "appropriate with the current demand environment".

The retirement of the 747s will generate $100 million in 2015 in operating contribution, he adds.

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