American Airlines is sending 20 MD-80 jets to an airplane graveyard

Retirement age.
Retirement age.
Image: Courtesy American Airlines
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Call it forced retirement.

American Airlines is sending 20 of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80s on their final flights on Tuesday. The largest US carrier by traffic is slimming its fleet to make room for newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. The MD-80s fit that bill in the 1980s. American and other carriers stocked up on the twin-engine aircraft that burned less fuel than its predecessors, making the it a staple aircraft for domestic routes.

Delta and Allegiant are among the carriers that also fly the MD-80.  

It’s one of the largest single-day aircraft retirements ever, according to the airline, adding that its using the end of the busy summer travel season to take the MD-80s out of commission. The planes will live out their days at the Roswell International Air Center in Chaves County, New Mexico.


American’s MD-80s are an average of 23 years old, compared with about 10 years for the rest of the airline’s fleet. The remaining 61 MD-80s will fly through the summer of 2018 and possibly longer, a spokesman said.

“Certainly there will be a day when these are all gone but today is not that day,” he said.