Photo of a Delta MD-80 by Daniel2986 on Wikipedia, released into the public domain

Well that's just a tad bit worrying.

Delta chief executive Richard Anderson has reiterated his bullish view that the carrier’s large fleet of ageing Boeing MD-80s retain a cost advantage over newer Boeing 737-800s that is largely driven by lower ownership costs.

I think I've told this story here before, but just in case I'll write it again: during a business trip several years ago my father was on business in the US and was walking with some American colleagues across the tarmac to their aircraft when one astute aviation buff stopped dead in his tracks and refused to let them board. He recognised the registration on the fuselage as being the one from a plane that had suffered fairly severe damage in an accident previously and had obviously been patched back together.

I'm not saying the Delta airline management are being reckless, and I can only imagine the tough times they must be going through in this economic climate, but claiming MD-80s are cheaper than 737-800s because they're free compared to buying new aircraft sounds fishy. It's as if they're trying to rationalise in such a way to cover up something else. They should have left it at just this:

The carrier’s chief also claims that the maintenance costs on the MD-80 are lower than the 737-800 and crew costs are not quite as high.

My other concern is these smaller jets have shorter ranges and are hence placed on shorter commuter routes, which means they're exposed to far more pressurisation and depressurisation cycles which would add up to greater stresses far more quickly. If anything, smaller aircraft should be replaced more frequently.

Perhaps I've just been spoilt by Singapore Airlines which has one of the youngest fleets of aircraft in the world, if you're to believe The Wikipedias. Or that just might be their flight attendants. Don't worry, I didn't just write that.

If I'm worrying over nothing, feel free to post any corrections or clarifications you deem necessary.