Delta to add Boeing 717 as part of Fleet Renewal

Delta to Acquire AirTran Boeing 717 fleet | AirTran 717 at Atlanta Pictured | Commercial Aviation and Airline News

Delta to Add 88 Boeing 717-200’s

Out with the old and in with the new comes the latest aircraft news from Atlanta based Delta Air Lines.  Delta has sourced 88 Boeing 717-200 aircraft, to be added to their mainline fleet starting in 2013 at a rate of approximately three deliveries per month.  The newer Boeing 717 aircraft will replace the outdated DC-9’s acquired in the merger with Northwest Airlines followed by replacing fuel inefficient 50 seat regional aircraft.  The aircraft replacements will be handled one by one on a capacity neutral basis per Delta Air Lines.

The new aircraft will arrive as a result of a deal between Delta, Boeing, and Southwest Airlines, as a sub-lease of the AirTran 717 aircraft fleet which Southwest does not wish to keep as a result of the merger between Southwest and AirTran.  A final agreement is still subject to Southwest reaching agreements with all parties involved, but at this time the deal appears to be a green light.

Delta accepting delivery of the aircraft is subject to ratification of a new work agreement between Delta and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) union, covering over 12,000 pilots with the Atlanta based carrier.  In addition to mainline pilots flying the Boeing 717, the tentative agreement between Delta and the ALPA will also provide Delta with flexibility to acquire up to 70 larger, two-class 76 seat regional jets, operated by Delta Connection carriers.  Currently, a variety of carriers operating as Delta Connection fly 255 larger two-class regional jets, including the CRJ-700, CRJ-900, Embraer-170, and Embraer-175.  The airline would like to increase this to 325 aircraft.

While the regional jet’s are operated and flown by other airlines operating under the Delta Connection flag, the new Boeing 717 aircraft will provide additional flying and new opportunities for mainline pilots which make-up the ALPA at Delta.

For the customer, the Boeing 717 will provide a better passenger experience as a small, yet full-sized airliner.  The aircraft will operate in a two class configuration and it’s been rumored the planes will be outfitted with WiFi.

Delta CEO, Richard Anderson, said, “These actions pave the way for us to restructure and upgauge our domestic fleet, which will lower our costs, provide more pilot jobs and improve the onboard experience for our customers.”  Anderson continued, “The addition of the Boeing 717s, additional large regional jets and the planned replacement of 50-seat aircraft continue Delta’s commitment to operating an efficient, flexible domestic fleet that offers customers even more opportunities to upgrade to our First Class and Economy Comfort cabins.”

New Delta Pilot ALPA Agreement

The tentative agreement offered to the ALPA was approved by the Master Executive Council on May 21 and the new agreement is now being presented to pilots for review and ratification through June 30.  The agreement provides for increases in base pay as well as modification of the profit sharing program, and finally, a voluntary early retirement option offered to other work groups will also be available to Delta pilots once the agreement is ratified.

Mike Campbell, Executive Vice President – Human Resources and Labor Relations, said, “Delta, our pilots and ALPA continue to benefit from a very constructive, proactive relationship, one that is unprecedented in our industry.”  Campbell continued, “This tentative agreement represents an investment in our pilots and our company as it gives Delta significant fleet flexibility, the ability to continue running a reliable operation for our customers, and a profitable enterprise for shareholders and for all Delta people. The fleet changes provided by this agreement, coupled with the productivity and profit sharing changes, cover the investments in our employees.”


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