Starting this month, the parent company of Allegiant Air will take delivery of 18 Boeing MD-80 aircraft purchased from SAS Group as part of the Scandinavian operator's core restructuring programme.

Deliveries of the aircraft will continue through the third quarter of 2010 as SAS aims to remove a total of 21 aircraft from its fleet. Allegiant's forthcoming aircraft include 13 MD-82s/MD-83s and five MD-87s.

Allegiant plans to place the MD-82s/MD-83s into service by the end of 2011, and the MD-87s will be used as a source of spare engines and other spare parts.

An Allegiant spokeswoman declined to say how or where the aircraft will be used, "but suffice it to say additional aircraft will provide for growth in our system".

In a statement issued today the carrier says it anticipates the cost of placing the additional MD-80s into service is $4 million per aircraft.

Today's announcement follows Allegiant's purchase of two other MD-82/MD-83 aircraft from SAS that are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of this year.

The two transactions satisfy "essentially all of Allegiant's currently expected aircraft growth through the end of 2011", Allegiant says.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant currently operates 46 MD-80s, and the latest transaction is the fifth it has concluded with SAS.

The airline says it plans to operate a minimum of 52 aircraft by the end of this year and up to 60 aircraft by the end of 2011.

Allegiant president Andrew Levy says: "This transaction re-affirms our commitment to the MD-80 aircraft. Our ability to acquire such highly-reliable aircraft at attractive economics permits Allegiant to closely tailor our capacity to demand, a key element of our leisure-oriented business model. We believe these are clearly the best MD-80 aircraft available, having an unbeatable maintenance pedigree and being sister ships to 11 aircraft already in our fleet, thereby enhancing fleet commonality."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news