MIAMI – Earlier than it had been planned in its retirement schedule, Delta Air Lines (DL) announced that it would withdraw MD-88 and MD-90 from its fleet in an effort to reduce its capacity systemwide.
The airline had already reduced about half of its active aircraft due to the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, around 600 mainline and regional aircraft were parked.
Reasons behind both retirements
To grapple with the current crisis, the carrier first halted air passenger operations, storing the MD-88 and MD-90 types. But as the negative impact is now worse than previously expected, DL is considering early retirements of older and less efficient aircraft such as the MD-80/90 fleet.
Both models were operated in the carrier’s domestic network prior to travel restrictions and were expected to remain active throughout 2020.
The MD-88 was previously scheduled to be fully retired at the end of 2020 as it has an average age of 29 years. The withdraw has been progressive in the last two years as the airline had 116 aircraft in 2017, reducing its fleet to 47 in 2019.
Regarding the MD-90, the company has 29 in its fleet and their retirement deadline was not expected before 2022. This MD-90 fleet has an average age of 23 years.
According to Air Insight’s Decision Analytics, the maintenance of MD-88 had the highest average cost per hour of the airline at US$457, closely followed by the maintenance of MD-90 at US$456.
Delta continues evaluating additional aircraft retirements to focus on modern fleets, in this case, with more efficient performance and fewer related costs per operation.