Final Farewell: Delta Retires the ‘Mad Dogs’ MD-88 and MD-90

Photo: David Fossler /

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Today, 2 June, 2020, is the day when Delta bids final goodbye to its MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft. Last scheduled revenue flights will land in Atlanta.

At the moment of writing, the flight DL88 performed by a 28-year-old MD-88 was heading from Washington-Dulles International Airport to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Meanwhile, DL90 flight had already landed in Atlanta after the trip from Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

“Once on the ground in Atlanta, the aircraft will join several other MD-88s and MD-90s as they fly to Blytheville, Ark., where they will be officially retired from the fleet,” said Delta in a statement published on 19 May, 2020.

Delta said that it is the last US passenger airline to operate these aircraft, whose history will never be forgotten. At its peak, Delta operated a fleet of 185 ”Mad Dog” jets that flew roughly 900 daily flights.

Colin A Pierce /

Delta was one of the largest customers for McDonnell Douglas aircraft. The first DC-9 joined the carrier in 1965, the very first MD-88 entered the Delta fleet in January 1988. With the MD-90 type the relationship was even more special, as in 1995 Delta was its launch customer.

If not the current crisis and accelerating phase-out of older and less efficient aircraft, maybe Delta would have flown the “Mad Dogs” a bit longer. As of February this year, prior to the coronavirus-driven fleet reduction, there were 47 MD-88s and 29 MD-90s in service.

Nevertheless, in response to dynamic circumstances, Delta has already said goodbye to MD-88s and MD-90s and by the end of 2020 will permanently decommission its entire fleet of 18 Boeing 777 aircraft.