LightningZ71 wrote:The only thing that comes to mind about operating costs are the ongoing maintenance and check costs. Since the MD-80/90 series is EOL, and they are essentially using their own existing spares pool for parts, is it possible that the maintenance costs per flight hour on the existing supers is lower than for the newer frames? Delta isn't likely to believe that the Super's have any actual resale value, so, there is no book depreciation on their value by flying them a couple of times a week to keep them in an active state. The alternative is depreciating newer assets, like 739s, etc, and pushing them closer to their next major maintenance interval faster than they otherwise would be by doing the same type of flying. So, while OWNERSHIP costs remain the same, OPERATING costs can be different. Running the frame hours off a newer plane that has a lot of life left to give costs more in value than flying the last few hours off of frames that are destined to be soda cans in a few years, and the scrap value on them won't change in any meaningful way by putting more hours on them now.
As for fuel, yes, the Supers do use a lot more fuel per hour, especially when full, but these frames are flying around half empty at best, some have crew outnumbering passengers on some legs. We are also in an era of substantially reduced fuel costs as well, so the actual dollar cost in consumables to operate these craft may not be that much higher than it is on the newer frames.
I also wonder, what does Delta's fuel situation look like? Are they obligated to take a minimum amount of fuel each day/week/month by some contracts? Does burning off more of that fuel instead of having to store it or pay a penalty to not take it, help them in any way? I have no idea if they have J.I.T. fuel arrangements at a lot of their stations, or is it just that they pay per lb/gallon by whoever the local fuel distributor is? What I'm trying to say is that, if they have already paid a certain amount to take a certain amount of fuel ongoing, it doesn't matter what they fly as that charge will be flat until it can be renegotiated.
Cycles are arguably a better indicator of an aircraft’s useful life, but their asset value / depreciation life is based upon time. It’s like a car... miles may be a better indicator of their useful life, but they’re depreciated over time. And their asset value is based largely on time — if you went to the Toyota dealer today, and you bought a brand new 2018 car that’s been sitting on the lot, drove it 10K miles and tried selling it in a year, it’s going to be worth significantly less than somebody who bought 2020 model on the same day and put 15K miles on it.
Secondly, it’s expensive to keep planes in storage. There’s parking fees, some level of maintenance fees, insurance costs, re-activation cost (depends on how long the plane was parked and the level of maintenance), etc. The longer a plane has been parked... the greater its cost.
DL has a ton of extra capacity, and it’s going to take years to fully recover from this. They have a large collection of late model 739 and 321 that were never likely to operate 30 years to begin with, so while the idea that DL could operate the MD-88 indefinitely while preserving cycles on those planes seems logical, it’s also not rational. The newer aircraft are more efficient and collectively have less maintenance costs... they’ll be be operating over the MD-88.
While it’s nice to see others who’d like the 88/90 to linger on... they’ll be gone soon.