American Airlines to retire its fleet of 26 MD-80s

McDonnell Douglas MD-80 in American Airlines livery ©AirTeamImages

As part of its strategy of having “the youngest fleet of global network carriers”, American Airlines has announced it is to retire the final 26 of its original mainline fleet of 30 MD-80 aircraft nicknamed “Mad Dog”. The final flight, Flight 80, will leave the carrier’s main base at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Texas for Chicago O’Hare International Airport on September 4, after which it will be ferried to Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico.

In what American Airlines describes as a “bittersweet but well-earned retirement” the MD-80, also known as the Super 80, was the carrier’s workhorse during the 1980s. American Airlines took delivery of its first MD-80 in 1983 according to Boeing’s order and delivery log. The current average age of the fleet of 26 “Mad Dogs” is over 20 years.

American Airlines is believed to operate 957 aircraft in its mainline fleet, with a further 607 aircraft in its regional fleet. In 2018 it placed a combined order for an additional 47 Boeing 787- 8 and 787-9 Dreamliners to take the place of its aging 767s and other older, wide-body models. Delivery of the Dreamliners is scheduled to being in 2020. In addition to starting to take delivery of Airbus A321neo jets this year, American Airlines also placed an order at the Paris Air Show on June 19 for a total of 50 of the new A321 XLR (Xtra Long Range) jet, which included a conversion of 30 previously ordered A321neos.

While the retirement date for the “Mad Dog” has been confirmed, American Airlines is still uncertain as to when its fleet of Boeing 737 MAXs will become operational again. Having previously penciled in August 19 as a return-to-the-skies date, this has been postponed for a second time, now aiming for early September.

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