Delta is finally retiring its DC-9s in January, almost 50 years after the Atlanta based carrier received its first aircraft.
The last flight will be Delta 2014 on Jan. 6 from Minneapolis to Atlanta. Delta inherited the DC-9s from Northwest Airlines when the two carriers merged in 2008, and they are old. Very old. According to Terry Maxon of the Dallas Morning News, the 16 DC9s in Delta’s fleet are an average of 35.1 years old. (Before picking up the Northwest DC-9s, Delta retired its fleet in 1993.)
There’s no technical reason the airplane must be replaced, but the DC-9 is nowhere near as efficient as newer airliners. Delta is adding new planes to its fleet in 2014, including the Boeing 737-900ER and the Boeing 717 and those aircraft are considerably more fuel efficient. The 717s are actually no longer being built and are coming into the fleet used, on a lease from from Southwest Airlines, but they’re still far more economical than the DC-9s.
Delta was the launch carrier for the DC-9 back in 1965. According to Delta, when the airline received the jet, it replaced propeller airplanes on high frequency and short domestic routes. Delta has flown 305 DC-9s since 1965.
Delta’s current DC-9s seat 120 passengers. The 1965 model had 65 seats.