Looking to fly on an American Airlines 767 or E190? It is too late. Both aircraft types, already slated for retirement, had that process accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 induced demand drop. They will not return to passenger service from their current groundings. And those aren’t the only cuts.
American Airlines also had its A330-300 and 757-200 fleets slated for retirement. The timelines on those is similarly accelerating. The carrier will also remove a 19 Bombardier CRJ 200 aircraft from its regional operations. All told, American will drop its aircraft count by nearly 100 frames for now, with future cuts still possible.
Next up on the chopping block would be the A330-200s or older 737-800 aircraft. The 332s are under different financing terms than the –300s, making them slightly more useful to keep around. The 737s are older and first up for retirement anyways, but the airline is not yet ready to write off that extra capacity for the eventual market rebound.
Delta’s Mad Dogs whimper quietly into retirement
The “Mad Dog” MD-88/90 era for US commercial airlines will end with a whimper. Delta Airlines previously intended to retire its remaining 47 MD-88s by the end of the year. With the drop in demand those planes, plus 29 MD-90s, will now exit the fleet effective June 2020.
For both carriers the retirements are, of course, critically necessary moves to address capacity and cost challenges. And they are milestone events. These planes have, generally speaking, been around a long time and each has a special place in history for the carriers. That they are being retired with nary an aviation-themed cupcake to be seen is very much a sign of the times. But also a necessary one.
From a passenger perspective the moves will be a mixed bag. As some of the oldest planes running the inflight amenities were often less stellar. The planes had older IFE/C solutions, for example. But they also came with generally wider seats and a more comfortable seating layout (except the CR2s, obviously). For Delta this also means the only mainline fleet type without satellite WiFi is now the 717s. How long those remain in service rather than replaced by A220s remains to be seen.