Delta to introduce Boeing 717 in 2013

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Delta Air Lines has finalised an agreement with Southwest Airlines and Boeing Capital to lease 88 Boeing 717-200s beginning in August 2013.

The Atlanta-based carrier will receive about three aircraft per month from Southwest's subsidiary AirTran Airways with 16 aircraft transferred in 2016, 36 in 2014 and 36 in 2015.

Delta will either lease the aircraft from Boeing Capital or sublease the narrowbodies from Southwest.

"The 717s also provide Delta with a significant improvement in economic efficiency relative to the aircraft they are replacing," says Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta, in a statement.

The arrangement is related to a deal between Delta and its pilots that allows the carrier to retire 218 50-seat regional jets and add 70 76-seat RJs.

Southwest will face a $50 million charge from transaction costs but realise $200 million in annual cost savings once the 717s exit its fleet, says the airline.

Delta will configure the 717s with 110 seats, including 12 seats in first class, 15 in economy "comfort" and 83 in economy.