Today marks the end of an era for Delta Air Lines as it becomes the latest airline to retire its fleet of MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft. Once a significant part of the airline, today, Delta will operate final flights for both aircraft types.
As times change, airlines have been phasing out older aircraft in favor of newer, more fuel-efficient alternatives. Indeed, last September saw American Airlines operate its final MD-80 flight. However, the current crisis has led to the accelerated retirements of some aircraft types. Last month it was the turn of Air France’s Airbus A380s. Today it is the turn of Delta’s MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft.
The final flights
Delta Air Lines has put an awful lot of thought into the final flights of the MD-88 and MD-90. Indeed, the airline has scheduled them onto flights with unique flight numbers just for the occasion:
- DL 88 is expected to be operated by N900DE, a 28-year-old MD-88 that was delivered to Delta Air Lines as new in March 1992. The flight is scheduled to depart from Washington (IAD) at 08:15. Following a short trip, it will land in Atlanta (ATL) at 10:00.
- DL 90 is scheduled to be operated by N925DN. This MD-90 is slightly younger, at 21 years old. It was delivered to China Eastern Airlines in 1998 before transferring to Delta just under ten years ago in July 2010. DL 90 will depart from Houston (IAH) at 06:00. It is then scheduled to arrive in Atlantia at 08:58.
What’s next for the aircraft?
Both of the aircraft will arrive in Atlanta this morning, having carried more than 750 million passengers during their life span. The aircraft are being retired ahead of Delta’s original plan due to the current aviation crisis.
Following their final flights, both N900DE and N925DN will fly to Blytheville in Arkansas. The retirement of the aircraft doesn’t come as a considerable shock, as Delta had initially planned to phase out the plane by the end of the year.
About the Delta MD Fleet
Having served Delta for over three decades, the MD fleet has certainly racked up some impressive stats at the airline. Over the past 33 years, Delta has operated a total of 120 MD-88 and 65 MD-90 aircraft.
Indeed, the aircraft was a vital part of the Delta fleet, accounting for around half of all departures from Atlanta in 2014. That year, 900 of the US carrier’s 3,000 daily flights were operated by the types.
The MD aircraft have operated over 600 different routes in America with the Delta livery, carrying over 750 million passengers over the past 33 years. Of course, to run so many flights requires a large pilot pool. Over 9,000 Delta pilots have been qualified to fly the MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft.
Will you miss Delta’s MD-88s and MD-90s? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!