MIAMI – On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines (DL) retired its MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft earlier than previously planned. The carrier accelerated the retirement schedule of both aircraft as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to DL’s April press release, the 149-seat MD-88 was previously set to retire by the end of 2020. As of February this year, prior to the coronavirus-driven fleet reduction, there were 47 MD-88 and 29 MD-90 operating.

The retirements mean not only the end of the noisier “Mad Dog” MD models but also the end of the McDonnell Douglas name, the company acquired by Boeing in 1997.

Photo: Robero Leiro

Systemwide Capacity Reductions

Reducing its capacity systemwide, DL has cut its overall active fleet by about half, parking more than 600 mainline and regional aircraft in the last two months.

Delta continues to evaluate its broader fleet plan and will consider additional aircraft retirements to focus on a modern, more simplified fleet going forward

Both aircraft operated across much of DL’s domestic network and have been workhorses for the airline. DL is the last airline to operate the aircraft after American Airlines (AA) retired its MD-88 in September 2019.

Photo: Roberto Leiro

Delta MD-88 and MD-90 Aircraft

The MD-88 was the last variant of the MD-80, which was launched on January 23, 1986 on the back of orders and options from DL for a total of 80 aircraft.

The MD-90 was launched firmly on November 14, 1989, when Delta Air Lines placed an order for 50 MD-90s, with options for another 110 planes.

The MD-90 aircraft first flew on 22 February 1993, and in February 1995, the first MD-90 was delivered to DL. The MD-90 was manufactured next door to Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, California, US.

Featured image: Delta MD88 receiving a water cannon salute in Atlanta on its retirement day on June 2, 2020. Photo: Tyler Lorenz