Delta plans to retire its Boeing 777 jumbo jets and replace them with Airbus SE aircraft. The carrier’s 18 777’s will leave service by the end of this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline said. The retirement will accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet, said the carrier, while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.  Ed Bastian, CEO, wrote in a memo to employees that retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 ”is not an easy decision.” He said the plane had played an important role for Delta since 1999, allowing the carrier to open new long-haul markets and grow its international network as it transformed into a global airline. The 777 flew some of Delta’s longest and most prestigious routes, including New York to Mumbai, Los Angeles to Paris, Los Angeles to Sydney, Atlanta to Shanghai, and the airline’s longest flight, Atlanta to Johannesburg.