American Airlines Has Retired Its Final MD-80 Today

American Airlines retired the last of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft today. The iconic airliner departed from Dallas-Fort Worth at 9:00am before landing at Chicago O’Hare at 11:35am.

American Airlines MD-80
The MD-80 became an icon for American aviation towards the end of the 20th century. Photo: Grant Wickes via Wikimedia Commons

AA initially announced the retirement of the all 26 of the models on the 24th June on their website. The last of these flights took place today, with flight 80 finishing its last journey. The aircraft will now be laid to rest in the New Mexico desert with its former comrades.

Emotional farewell

American Airlines’ statement on their website gave an emotional farewell to the trusted airliner. The MD-80 had served the US-based airline for 37 years. The first model of this range was leased by American Airlines in October 1982 to replace the Boeing 727-100.

“The MD-80, also known as the Super 80, was the workhorse of the airline’s fleet throughout the 1980s and beyond, providing customers and team members with heartfelt memories on adventures ranging from family vacations to key business trips,” the statement read.

“It’s a bittersweet but well-earned retirement as American celebrates the aircraft’s history while modernizing its fleet.”

McDonnell Douglas MD-80,
The aircraft became an important asset for AA in their expansion. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Long-term service

Affectionally nicknamed, “Mad Dog”, the aircraft was launched by McDonnell Douglas in 1979. It was built as an upgrade to the manufacturer’s DC-9, which was operated in 1965. The MD-80 held between 130 and 172 passengers depending on its configuration. The airliner is famed for its noticeable twin engines that are placed near the tail.

Following McDonnell Douglas’ merger with Boeing, the MD-80s continued to be produced until 1999. Altogether, 1,191 of these models were produced until discontinuation in 1999. American Airlines operated 360 of these over the decades. Delta Air Lines and other operators still continue to use some of these airliners in their services.

McDonnell Douglas, and later Boeing, built 1,191 MD-80s between 1979 and 1999. At one time, American Airlines operated a fleet of 360 MD-80s. Delta Air Lines has also announced that it will be retiring the jetliner by next year.

McDonnell Douglas MD-80
The airliner eventually became outdated and has been replaced by other models. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Legacy in place

The MD-80 revolutionized business for AA and was the first plane in its collection that was operated by only two pilots. It became a staple for their cross-country and regional routes.

However, over the years, the aircraft became less fuel-efficient and was overtaken by newer jets. Airbus A320 series, A220 series and the Boeing 737 MAX have all become the favored option for airlines.

Ultimately, we say goodbye to the historical aircraft following nearly four decades of service. AA shared quotes from their staff and customers about the farewell.

Kevin King, an AA employee in St Louis, shared an emotional statement regarding the retirement.

“The MD-80 has been a constant presence throughout my American Airlines career,” he said.

“There are so many memories and stories and in the end, they are all about the work and the dedicated people who did the work.”

To help commemorate this historic day, AA created a special retro American Flight 80 boarding pass to mark its last journey.