American Airlines Sets Retirement Date For MD-80 Aircraft

Chris Sommer
June 26, 2019 - 7:44 am
Silver McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (MD-80) airplane

icholakov/GettyImages

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FORT WORTH (1080 KRLD) - Thirty-five years ago, it was the new shining star of the American Airlines fleet.  Now, the MD-80 is about to fly off into the sunset for good.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth-based carrier announced its last 26 MD-80 aircraft will be retired in early September.  The workhorse plane, also known as the 'Super 80,' will make its final revenue flight with a trip from DFW International Airport to Chicago O'Hare on Sept. 4. 

Appropriately, that trip has been designated AA Flight 80.  The historic flight is already sold out.

The MD-80 was an offshoot of the popular DC-9 when McDonnell-Douglas launched the program in 1977.  In 1982, American ordered 20 of the aircraft.  The following year, the airline became the first major domestic carrier to fly the Super 80.  Promoted with much fanfare, American called it "a great airplane for the Eighties."

After acquiring TWA in 2001, American eventually had more than 300 Super 80s in its fleet.  The plane was popular with customers because of its "two-three" seat configuration (no middle seat on one side).  

American has gradually phased out the MD-80 in recent years, replacing it with newer models of the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. 

Some observers do find it puzzling that the carrier is choosing to retire the plane before the grounded Boeing 737 MAX is cleared to fly again.

After carrying millions of passengers over the years, the Super 80 will always hold a special place in the history of U.S. aviation.​