Allegiant to phase out MD-80s in decade

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Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air plans to phase out its Boeing MD-80s in a decade, as the Las Vegas-based airline concentrates its growth around current generation narrowbody aircraft.

Allegiant announced in July that it will introduce Airbus A319s to its fleet, which is comprised mostly of MD-80s and a number of Boeing 757s. The airline will add 19 A319s from the fourth quarter of this year through 2015.

The carrier will gradually phase out the MD-80s over time and is looking at a 10-year timeframe, Allegiant's chief executive Maurice Gallagher tells Flightglobal at the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Dallas.

Allegiant expects to end 2012 with an in-service fleet of 62 aircraft, comprised of 58 MD-80s and four 757s. While the airline has said it has no concrete plan to retire the MD-80s in the near future, it has acknowledged that the aircraft's older technology and has said it will not be adding more of the type.

In the meantime, the carrier is on the look-out to lease more A319s or A320s. While Gallagher declines to specify the number of aircraft the airline is looking to lease, he says that it would be fair to say that it will be close to the number of MD-80s currently operated by Allegiant.

Allegiant is also in the process of adding 16 seats to each of its MD-82/83s, taking the number of seats on board to 166. As of end-July, 31 aircraft have had the additional seats installed. Allegiant aims to complete the project on its remaining MD-80s by end-2012 or at the latest the first quarter of 2013, says Gallagher.