Twenty MD-80s flew their last flights for American Airlines on Tuesday.
The Fort Worth-based carrier retired the aircraft to the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico in one of the largest single-day fleet retirements. The planes, many of which were first put into service in the late 1980s, will be used for replacement parts or could be sold to an airline, possibly in another country.
American has spent millions on new aircraft in recent years to modernize its fleet, replacing aging aircraft, like the MD-80, with new Airbus A319s. The airline has been slowly taking old airplanes out of service but American spokesman Josh Freed noted that Tuesday’s retirement of almost two dozen planes is unusual.
“It’s the wind down of the summer travel season,” Freed said, adding that American doesn’t need as many aircraft to fly its fall schedule.
American had 87 MD-80s in operation by the end of June. With the retirements, it expects to have only 52 left in operation by the end of the year, down from the almost 400 MD-80s American flew ubiquitously on domestic routes during most of the 1990s and 2000s.
The average age of American’s MD-80 fleet is 23 years. The planes have 140 seats including 16 in first class. Freed said American plans to still be flying MD-80s through at least the summer of 2018.
The aircraft departed from all over the U.S., including Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Raleigh and Minneapolis. Three of the 17 aircraft being retired were originally delivered to Trans World Airlines.