The lockdown in aviation has indeed led to some significant changes for airlines – many have had to move towards a lean business model, thereby, retiring the inefficient and inept aircraft, having to shrink their fleet substantially. Today, (Tuesday, June 2, 2020), Delta’s McDonnell Douglas MD-90 and MD-88 aircraft will fly their last of scheduled flights, heading to Blytheville, marking their retirement.
The MD-90 and MD-88s have operated across Delta’s domestic network for over 25 years and have been chief driving forces for the carrier. These two aircraft have collectively ferried more than 750 million customers during their whole operating lifespan. The final MD-90 flight, operating flight DL90 (not a coincidence!), shall arrive in Atlanta from Houston, whereas, the final MD-88 flight, operating flight DL88, is planned to arrive from Washington-Dulles.
Retirement of the MD-90s and MD-88s further contributes in making 2020 quite a historic year for aircraft retirements – Delta retired the Boeing 777s earlier last month, KLM and Qantas retired their 747s, Southwest also reduced their fleet of the 737s, and several airlines have plans to retire their A380s – in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The MD-90s and MD-88s were colorfully nicknamed ‘Mad Dogs’. The aircraft have been operating for Delta for over 25 years, even after McDonnell Douglas, an aircraft maker, disappeared in 1997, when Boeing acquired it. Delta started phasing out the MD-90s way back in 2017.
Prior to the aviation lockdown, there were 29 MD-90s and 47 MD-88s operating in Delta’s fleet and the carrier was set to retire these aircraft by the end of 2020. However, Delta now has plans to cut its current active fleet by about half, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis that has affected many airlines adversely. The carrier has currently parked more than 600 aircraft – both regional and mainline, and in an attempt to preserve cash, which would have been spent in the maintenance of these grounded jets, is retiring the old and inefficient aircraft first.
Retirement of the MD-90s and MD-88s at Delta will mark the first time since the first half of 1980s, that no American airline shall be operating the ‘Mad Dog’ for commercial passenger service. Even American Airlines retired their fleet of MD-90s and MD-88s last year.
Will you miss the Mad Dogs in America’s skies? Have you ever been on one? Let us know in the comments!