Delta Air Lines To Retire Final MD-90 In 2022

Delta has announced that it plans to retire the last of their MD-90 aircraft by 2022, as reported by The Points Guy. 

A Delta MD-90. Photo: Colin via Flickr

These aircraft have been the workhorse of the Delta regional fleet for decades, and their replacement by other aircraft (such as the A220) will herald in the end of an era.

What are the details?

At a recent earnings call on July 11th, chief financial officer Paul Jacobson outlined a new plan to retire the Delta MD-90 fleet. This new plan actually brings forward the retirement timeline from 2024 to 2022 in an effort to realize fleet simplification benefits.

Delta currently operates 32 MD-90s and will start by taking nine aircraft off their books by the end of the year. They actually began the removal of the type two years ago, taking two aircraft off the tarmac to be used as spare parts for their, at the time, 65 plane strong MD-90 fleet. Delta then removed 12 aircraft in 2018 and has reduced the fleet footprint significantly since.

Additionally, the current age of Delta’s MD-90 fleet is pushing an average of 22 years. In the current age where many flag carriers refuse to have an aircraft over 10 years old, this is rather surprising.

Delta was the only US customer to really take up the MD-90 as a part of their fleet. As the launch customer of the aircraft back in 1995, they ordered 160 MD-90 aircraft. But when McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing, Delta converted the remainder of their 95 orders in Boeing 737s. Only 116 MD-90s were ever built.

Where can you fly on the Delta MD-90?

Currently, Delta operates its remaining aircraft from their hub airport Atlanta. The type flies from Texas to Miami and all the way to upstate new york.

GC Maps
MD-90 routes in the US as of April 2019. Image: GC Maps

What will they be replaced with?

Delta actually has plenty of aircraft on order that are perfect to replace the 158-seater MD-90 with. Specifically, they have:

  • 77 Airbus A220s, which are currently being deployed in the American North-East and Texas
Delta A220
Delta took delivery of their first A220 last October. Photo: Delta News Hub / Wikimedia Commons
  • 144 Airbus A321s & A321neos, which the latter will start to be delivered by 2020.
Delta A321neo
The A321neo will join Delta’s fleet from 2020. Photo: Delta

The arriving new aircraft will be used for these routes, and replace not only the MD-90 but the MD-88 fleet as well.

These new aircraft come with a heap of benefits for passengers including better humidity, LED mood lighting to replicate sunlight and new soft products (such as a window in the bathroom onboard the A220 series).

With the retirement of the MD-90 and MD-88 aircraft, this leaves Delta looking at their next oldest aircraft, their Boeing 757s, and Boeing 767s.

What do you think of this retirement? Let us know in the comments.