Why did Delta Air Lines take the Boeing 717?
Delta Air Lines currently has 67 Boeing 717s in its fleet. The Atlanta-based carrier hasn’t operated this type for a long time, with the first delivery being just eight years ago. The guy having fallen out of favor among the airlines in recent years, we thought we’d take a look at Delta’s trip with the plane.
Part of a larger shot
In May 2012, Delta announced that it would take 88 Boeing 717 units when ratifying a new tentative agreement covering more than 12,000 pilots. Later that summer, Delta confirmed the plane would replace the airline’s small 50-seat regional jets “on a capacity neutral basis.”
Overall, the arrival of these small carriers was part of the airline’s larger domestic fleet optimization plan, launched a few years earlier. Along with these planes, Delta also searched for new fuel-efficient Boeing 737-900ERs over the decade.
Additionally, these 717s would replace the carrier’s DC-9-50s. Incidentally, the 717 was to be the successor to the family of this aircraft. However, in the midst of Boeing’s merger with McDonnell Douglas, what was originally called the MD-95 was renamed to fit Boeing’s branding image.
Negotiations with a rival
These planes were owned by Southwest Airlines after the Texan team merged with AirTran, which was the launch customer of the 717. However, Southwest, being naturally a fan of the 737, didn’t really need another guy. Delta subsequently entered into an agreement for these planes.
Thus, 16 units were to arrive in 2013, 36 others in 2014, and 36 the following year. With these deliveries, Delta has become the main operator of the type.
Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson shared the following about the deal in a 2012 statement:
“These actions pave the way for us to restructure and improve our national fleet, which will reduce our costs, provide more pilot jobs and improve the on-board experience for our customers. The addition of Boeing 717s, additional large regional jets and the planned replacement of 50-seat aircraft confirm Delta’s commitment to operating an efficient and flexible domestic fleet that offers customers even more opportunities to switch to our cabins. First Class and Economy Comfort.
A modern approach
Delta was keen to point out the updates provided with the 110 seats. The improved interiors would accommodate 12 passengers in first class and 15 in Economy Comfort. Meanwhile, those in economics would sit in a 2-3 formation. There is only one center seat per row with this configuration. Each passenger would be able to access WiFi, available in all cabins.
The airline was proud to point out the amenities of these units. He noted that business passengers would benefit in particular from having additional mainline aircraft with the transition.
It wasn’t just the customers who would reap the benefits. The fact that efficient mid-size aircraft replace smaller units improves the company’s profitability. The fact that one airplane replaces two smaller vehicles reduces the cost of fuel and other operating costs. In addition, this approach is more durable than the previous method.
Anderson added the following, according to a statement from Delta:
“The addition of the Boeing 717 to our fleet will provide customers, especially business travelers, more mainliner services with their preferred equipment. The 717s also provide Delta with a significant improvement in economic efficiency over the aircraft they are replacing.
Before being delivered to Atlanta, the planes were reconfigured to Delta’s requirements. For example, seven seats have been removed from the previous configuration.
According to ch-aviation, the registration N935AT was the first unit to join the fold. This 717-200 arrived in the fall of 2013 and was with the airline until February. The aircraft first entered service in April 2000 with TWA before AirTran took over in the summer of 2003.
This aircraft made its maiden flight to Delta on October 25, 2013. The Delta Flight Museum shares that this service was a trip between the carrier’s home in Atlanta and Newark. Soon after, operations with the aircraft expanded to Little Rock, Arkansas and Cleveland.
Delta’s 717-200 planes can achieve range of up to 1,510 miles (2,430 km) and speeds of up to 504 mph (811 km / h). During this time, the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) is 110,000 lbs. (49,895 kilograms). Two Rolls-Royce BR715 turbofans help the plane reach these numbers in the sky.
Stay informed: Register now for our daily and weekly aviation news summaries.
At present, the airline is one of only three carriers still operating this type. It is joined by QantasLink and Hawaiian Airlines. These two airlines operate their units on domestic operations. A fourth operator, Volotea, stopped piloting the model at the start of the year.
Unfortunately, the 717 continues to disappear from the sky. Delta will retire all of its units by the middle of this decade. The company announced last September that the value of these planes was no longer recoverable against income from other planes. Overall, the company is not confident that it will generate profit with the 717 in the future.
Regardless, the 717 has had a strong impact on operations since its introduction in 1999. The aircraft has been appreciated for being a workhorse on domestic short and medium-haul operations. Delta staff will no doubt be sad to see him go in the next few years.
What do you think of the Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 plane? Have you flown on the guy with the airline over the years? Also, what do you think of the outlook for the plane? Let us know what you think of the planes in the comments section.