Coronavirus Could Force Delta’s MD-88s Into Early Retirement

The coronavirus outbreak has got many airlines thinking ahead in case the situation continues to get heated. With several carriers having to cut down services and alter their schedules, we may see an early retirement for some of Delta Air Lines’ older McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

Delta MD-88
The MD-88 could soon be a thing if the past for Delta. Photo: Getty Images

Executive summary

The Points Guy reports that Delta’s chief financial officer spoke at the Raymond James Institutional Investors about his company’s plans. If the outbreak continues to take its toll on the aviation industry, the airline will prioritize the retirement of older aircraft. Moreover, its fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-88s and MD-90s could be phased out earlier than planned.

Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth elaborated on Delta’s hints of early aircraft retirement. Even though it is too soon to be sure, the airline could retire the two MD types, along with some of its aged Boeing units.

“We believe it is too early to sound… alarm bells,” wrote Syth in a report, according to The Points Guy.

 “Delta indicated willingness to retire early its MD-88s, MD-90s, and possibly some older [Boeing] 757s/767s.”

Delta 767
Some of Delta’s could also soon see an early exit. Photo: Getty Images

Strong holding

According to Planespotters, Delta currently holds 48 MD-80s within its fleet. The oldest one of these joined the airline over three decades ago in April 1987. This is registration N905DL with MSN 49536. Meanwhile, the youngest in the pack is 27 years old with N920DE, arriving with MSN 53423. This came just in time for Christmas 1993.

Additionally, the operator has a further 27 MD-90s. The first of these to be delivered was registration N908DA, holding MSN 53388. This unit arrived in September 1995. The newest arrival is N963DN, with MSN 53533. The jet joined the fleet in December 2011. However, it first entered into service 12 years before that with China Northern Airlines in March 1999.

Therefore, the age of the MD aircraft means that they are naturally ending their life cycle. However, the global change in circumstances may push Delta to retire them sooner rather than later.

End of an era

Just like the MD jets, Jacobson will soon leave Delta after years of service. After working his way up the company, he became the firm’s CFO in 2012 and will remain with the company until his successor is confirmed.

Altogether, he has been with the company for over 23 years. While he awaits the appointment of the new executive, he is making sure that his business is making the right moves for the decade ahead.

Delta carbon neutral getty images
Delta is set to make changes within both its fleet and leadership. Photo: Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to spread across the globe. Airlines will be working hard to limit the impact on their operations while ensuring the safety of their staff and passengers.

Simple Flying reached out to Delta for comment on the plans for its MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft. A Delta spokesperson referenced the company’s SEC filings and quarterly results conference calls. According to these, the firm’s MD-88 fleet is planned to be retired by the end of 2020 and its MD-90 units are set stop flying by the end of 2022.

What are your thoughts on the reports regarding Delta’s aircraft retirement schedule? Do you have any fond memories of these older models over the years? Share your experiences with us and let us know what you think of the plans in the comment section.