American Airlines MD-80 fleet is celebrating its final Christmas in service. For the past 36 Christmases, American Airlines MD-80 have been carrying families to see grandparents over the holidays. The venerable McDonnell Douglas jet has flown for American continuously since 1982.
Back in the early 1980s, American Airlines took a bet on the MD-80. McDonnell Douglas was desperate for business. American’s CEO at the time (Bob Crandall) negotiated a sweetheart deal. American received a fleet of new MD-80s to try out for a ridiculously low rate. The good news for McDonnell Douglas was that American loved the 5 abreast jet. The updated DC-9 allowed American to grow a fortress hub at DFW and connect Chicago O’hare and the East Coast. American eventually purchased over 200 of the type. After the acquisition of TWA, the fleet grew to approximately 370 in service at its peak. Over the past 5 years, American has been retiring the type. They have been replaced by 737-800 and 737-8MAX jets. Some MD-80s will outlive the aircraft that was supposed to replace the MD-80 as American will begin retiring some 737-800s next year.
American started this year with 45 aircraft. American retired 15 of the jets this year. Today, there are only 30 MD-80s still flying for American Airlines. And only 2 of the jets currently flying were actually procured by American originally. The rest of the MD-80s currently flying were originally owned by TWA. By September of 2019, the remaining aircraft will be retired. Today, most MD-80s are flown out of DFW with only a few originating flights from O’Hare. Your time to fly the Mad Dog with an American logo on the tail is coming to an end. Better book a trip on one before next September!
Check out this video below on the American MD-80 by JustPlanes.
About the MD-80
The MD-80 is twin engine, single aisle, narrow body commercial jet airliner, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, and later by Boeing. It is a mid size, medium range airliner. This slender aircraft has a number of variants, including the MD-81, the MD-82, the MD-83, the MD-87, and MD-88. The MD-80 can seat anywhere from 130 to 172 passengers, depending on the variant. Each variant also features upgrades in the cockpit and avionics.
The aircraft took its maiden voyage on October 18th of 1979. However, two MD-80 aircraft were severely damaged during the test flights. Despite the early design issues, the MD-80 underwent improvements. The first variant of the MD-80 was introduced with Swissair in October of 1980. The MD-80 series was eventually modified into the MD-90 series.
Almost 1,200 MD-80 aircraft were built between 1979 and 1999, at a unit cost in the 40 million dollar range.