727 LOVER...I'll take a stab at this for you.
entering the early 80s, fuel was high, the country was in a crummy recession and decisive action was needed.
De gregulation was killing those with heavy fixed costs and contracts, while the likes of People Express, etc were eating the lunch of many majors.
so, somewhat in the same general time frame, several events came to pass...in late 1981 AA
retired the last of the 707's, and acquired some 15 or so used 727 from Braniff ( this may have been in 82 or so)
At about the same time the MD
80 came onto the market, and after a slow start to a few European carriers, Douglas was desperate for a domestic sale. The offered TWA anad Aa a number of frames on a "flye'm and if you lie 'em, buy em..with a 30 day walk-away clause in the lease.
Bob Crandal quickly realized the virtues of a 2 man cockpit, 2 engine jet that could do a number of missions, more cost effective than a 727.
He had to get wages in line with the new upstarts to compete on price. So offering a 2 tiered wages on new hires for a time, coupled with the MD
80's, it propelled AA
to widen it's reach with the 3 new hubs of RDU
He cut a deal with McDonnel Douglas that effectively made every third MD80 a free one. I think they were ordered in batches of 100 the first 2 times, then the balance.
So, a lot of new hires, new flights, lots of promotions to first officers for flight engineers, and to captains for first officers fueled a kick start that made the AA
of the late 80's and 90's possible.
Tjhat is it in a quick nutshell.