The MD-80’s Days Are Numbered As American Airlines Schedules Retirement

It seems as though the MD-80’s days are officially numbered as American Airlines has tentatively scheduled the last flight and thus retirement. The last flight, given the special flight number of AA 80, is scheduled to operate from Dallas Fort Worth to Chicago on September 4th.

American Airlines MD-80 Retirement
American Airlines has tentatively scheduled its last MD-80 flight. Photo: Cubbie_n_Vegas via Wikimedia

This October will mark 40 years since the first flight of the MD-80. However, since manufacturing of the aircraft ceased in 1999, a whole 20 years ago, the aircraft is starting to reach the end of its operational life. As such, American Airlines has been incrementally retiring their fleet, with the final MD-80 flight now scheduled for September.

About the MD-80

The MD-80 was designed in the 1970s. The first MD-80 order was placed by Swissair in 1977. This was for 15 aircraft plus five options. Following this order, the aircraft took its first flight on October the 18th, 1979.

Between 1979 and 1999, 1,191 MD-80s were produced, with a number being used on regional American services. American Airlines has been a big customer of the aircraft. Indeed, according to data from AirFleets.net, the carrier has had 384 MD-80s in its fleet at different times throughout its history. However, the majority of these aircraft have long since left the AA fleet.

MD-80 Retirement
Swissair was the first airline to order the MD-80. Photo: Herbert Maeder via Wikimedia

American Airlines Retirement

American Airlines has slowly been retiring its MD-80 for a while. Indeed, in August we reported that American Airlines had retired eight of the aircraft, dropping their in-service number to 34. These eight aircraft were flown to Roswell International Air Centre.

If the remainder of American Airlines’ MD-80s are taken to Roswell, they will likely be stripped of their expensive parts first, such as engines. They will then eventually be reduced to a pile of scrap metal. Hopefully some of these aircraft, especially the one operating the last flight, could instead receive a new lease of life. It would be great to see them end up at an aviation museum. Perhaps at PIMA Air and Space museum alongside the world’s first Boeing 777.

American Airlines MD-80 Retirement
American Airlines currently has just 28 MD-80s left flying. Photo: Eddie Maloney via Wikimedia

Final MD-80 flight

American Airlines has tentatively scheduled their last MD-80 flight for September. It is important to stress that this is subject to change pending the airline’s operational needs, along with other factors.

The airline currently still operates 28 of the aircraft. However, on the 5th of September, this should become zero as the remainder of the fleet is retired, according to World Airline News. The final flight will be operated as AA 80 and will take place on the 4th of September later this year. The flight will operate from Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Simple Flying was unable to locate AA 80 in American Airlines’ schedule at the time of writing.

Have you flown aboard an MD-80? We’d love to hear your favourite memory of the aircraft. Let us know in the comments!

2 comments
  1. I was working for frontier Airlines when we received our first MD 80 in 1982. Later on when I became a flight dispatcher I rode jumpseat on the MD-80 many times. What a great aircraft. Great memories

  2. Flew in MD 80’s a lot when flying Delta, and they were A LOT of fun to fly in. So sad to see these mad dogs retire, but I’m grateful to have traveled to new and exciting places because of them. Even thought of one of my first films aboard an MD 80.

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