Delta's 'Mad Dogs' Make Early Exit

Delta Air Lines has operated its final McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and MD-90 scheduled flights ahead of the type’s retirement. The final MD-90 service – aptly numbered DL90 – arrived in Atlanta from Houston on June 2 and the last MD-88 rotation returned from Washington/Dulles shortly after.

Both aircraft types operated across much of Delta’s domestic network and have been workhorses for the airline for several decades, carrying more than 750 million customers during their operating lifespan.

Delta 'Mad Dog' Retirement
Delta Air Lines took delivery of its first MD-88 in 1987 and operated 120 examples over a 33-year period of service. Wikimedia Commons/Cory Watts

The jets, N900DE (c/n 53372) and N925DN (c/n 53587), will now both be flown to Blytheville, Arkansas where they will be stored.

In total, the carrier operated 165 MD-80s and 78 MD-90s over a nearly 30-year period. At its peak, Delta held a fleet of 185 Mad Dogs that flew roughly 900 daily flights.

The type’s retirement comes as the airline announced in May, that it would be withdrawing its 18 Boeing 777 aircraft from use by the end of the year. Like the MD-80s and -90s, the widebody’s retirement has been accelerated due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.

Delta 'Mad Dog' Retirement
A stretched variant of the MD-80, Delta accepted its first MD-90 in 1995. Wikimedia Commons/Aero Icarus

At the time, Gil West, Delta’s chief operating officer, said: “We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis.”

Our reporter, Chris Sloan was on the final MD-90 service from Washington/Dulles. A detailed report from him about the experience will be appearing in the August 2020 issue of Airliner World.

Delta Infographic