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American Airlines is retiring their remaining MD-80 aircraft after 36 years

Posted at 6:16 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 14:40:09-04

TULSA, Okla. — On Wednesday, American Airlines (AA) is retiring all remaining MD-80 aircraft after 36 years of flying domestically.

The airline giant began operating the MD-80 in 1983. At one point, it had more than 350 of these planes, and now only 28 remain.

"It's 1960s technology. It burns more fuel. It takes more maintenance than the planes we fly today," said Craig Barton, the vice president of technical services.

The last passenger flight to arrive at Tulsa International Airport landed before midnight on Tuesday from Dallas Fort Worth. It carried between two to three dozen passengers.

Many of them were AA employees who worked on the plane until a few weeks ago.

"We did all of our work maintenance check here," said Barton, "A lot of the folks built their careers to be MD-80 mechanics, engineers or records clerks."

People like Jason Yoder, an aviation maintenance technician, who worked on the aircraft for more than 20 years at Tulsa's AA base maintenance facility.

"I know this plane inside and out. I’ve changed every electrical component at least once. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend," said Yoder.

The base will continue to operate and work on Boeing 737 and Airbus A321 family.

American Airlines recently announced it will add 400 more jobs.

The plane that landed in Tulsa will be retiring to Roswell, New Mexico in the so-called "airplane boneyard." That is where it will join the rest of the fleet.

The last passenger flight on an MD-80 is scheduled to land at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this afternoon.

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