Odds Are You’ll Never Fly On An MD-80 or MD-90 Again…But there is still time!
The end always comes sooner than you think. Just a couple of months ago and we were all thinking that Delta would retire their MD-88s at the end of this year and their MD-90s in a couple of years. COVID-19 has resulted in a much accelerated timeline for these T-tailed airliners. This is about more than the retirement of an airplane. This is truly the end of an era for McDonnell Douglas aviation.
Last year we chronicled the retirement of American Airlines’ McDonnell Douglas MD-80. A few years back we also lamented KLM’s retirement of the MD-11. Well the day has finally come that by the end of next week, there will no longer be any pre-merger MD scheduled passenger jet flying in the United States.
On June 2nd, Delta airlines will fly its final MD-88 and MD-90 flights. In normal times, this would have been a massive celebration but these aren’t normal times. Passenger traffic is beginning to rebound but it is still 90% less than levels seen a year ago. Most major airlines have drastically adjusted their schedule and fleet plans to adjust to these ‘challenging times.’ So that means that there will be a muted ceremony followed by a series of flights to the MD-88 and MD-90 boneyard located in Blytheville, Arkansas.
Final flight will end 80 year relationship with Douglas Aircraft Company
This header might sound controversial but it is true. The MD-88 and MD-90 were the last McDonnell Douglas jets that Delta Air Lines purchased first hand. It is true that their Boeing 717 (formerly MD-95s) will continue to soldier on for the next few years at least. And while Delta will retire a portion of their 717 fleet, a smaller group of T-tail jets will fly on. However, those jets were acquired second-hand as part of a lease takeover deal with Southwest Airlines (who acquired them as part of a merger with AirTran) back in 2012.
Delta was a loyal customer to Douglas and later McDonnell Douglas. They acquired the first DC-3 in 1944 and flew almost every major variation of DC-jets from the DC-6, to the DC-7, DC-8, DC-9, the DC-10 (for a short while) and then the MD-88, MD-90, and the MD-11. Today, Delta is a mix of Airbus and Boeing.
There is still time to fly on an MD-80 and MD-90
Although the industry is in a funk, Delta will still plan to commemorate their final MD-88 and MD-90 flights. According to Delta, “In a nod to the T-tail jet’s name, Delta Flight 88, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88, will depart on its last scheduled revenue flight on the morning of Tuesday, June 2, from Washington-Dulles International Airport to our hub in Atlanta. Earlier that same morning, Delta Flight 90, operated by an MD-90 aircraft, will fly from Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to ATL.
Once on the ground in Atlanta, the aircraft will join several other MD-88s and MD-90s as they fly to Blytheville, Ark., where they will be officially retired from the fleet.” There is still time to fly on a McDonnell Douglas bird. Although tickets for the final flights are sold out, there are still tickets available for flights this week. Don’t wait, this is your last chance. The MD-90 will officially enter boneyard status as of June 2nd as all MD-90s will retire.
Although some third world and charter MD-80 operators remain, no scheduled US or European operators of the type will remain after June 2nd. There is a near zero chance that any MD-90 will ever fly again as Delta was the last operator of the type.
There are still limited opportunities to fly on a MD-80 if you make the effort. Your best bet to fly on a MD-80 after June 2 is either to find a scheduled charter by World Atlantic Airlines or find a smaller airline in Central America, Iran or Africa that is still flying the type.