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Allegiant to retire last MD-80 next November

Allegiant Air has scheduled its last Boeing MD-80 flight for 25 November 2018, as it shifts to an all-Airbus A320 family fleet.

The date, shared by the Las Vegas-based carrier's chief executive Maurice Gallagher at an investor day today, comes as Allegiant prepares to add 30 A320 family aircraft next year, an updated fleet plan shows.

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During 2018, Allegiant will remove 37 MD-80s while adding 10 A319s and 20 A320s, according to the plan.

The improved efficiency and reliability of the Airbus fleet will allow the airline to operate its current schedule and grow capacity by 11-15% in 2018, executives say.

Allegiant's fleet of MD-80s has an average age of 27.8 years, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. This compares to an average age of just 12.3 years for both its A319 and A320 fleets.

The airline expects a $35 million impairment charge from the accelerate MD-80 retirements in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In addition to the fleet transition, Allegiant continues to reconfigure many of its A320s in what it calls a "max pax" high-density configuration with 186 seats. It anticipates 10 aircraft will be complete at the end of this year and 27 by the end of 2018.

The airline will have two A320 layouts when the programme wraps up in 2020: a standard configuration with 177 seats and the max pax with 186 seats.

Scott Sheldon, chief financial officer of Allegiant, says at investor day that they will reconfigure fewer aircraft in the max pax layout than previously planned due to Airbus considering pre-2000 vintage A320s being "ineligible" for the higher density seating.

Allegiant forecasts 48 max pax A320s, 25 standard A320s and 37 A319s with 156 seats by the end of 2020, the presentation shows.

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