I dont get why people like to hate on them! The new ones are fairly good, especially the Sukhoi's. Tu-334 and 114s are decent.
I have made large airlines with good profits using Tu-154Ms, you just need to know how to use them! Dont get them if you have high competition or your already large and plan on replacing a/c with them. Instead order lots of them to expand and then replace them with more fuel efficient a/c later on. That works really well in the late 80s to early 90s, so by the time 737NGs come out, you can order alot to replace the existing ones.
Why not use other similar sized a/c? No waiting for delivery! Super cheap leases! High seating, HD it and you get around 190 seats.
Sure it probably doesnt work during high fuel prices, but if your playing in a world with realistic fuel prices, then gas is pretty cheap throughout the late 80s and 90s.