Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 | 12:48 p.m.
The parent company of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air today announced a plan to reconfigure over a 1 1⁄2-year period 57 twin-engine MD-80 jets to add 16 seats and bring each aircraft’s capacity to 166 passengers.
The airline, which matches American Airlines with the fifth-largest capacity at McCarran International Airport with a 5.2 percent market share of seats into the city, will invest $50 million in the reconfiguration process, which will begin in the third quarter of 2011 and be completed by the end of 2012.
The project will involve removing galleys from the planes to add the 16 seats.
“These added seats will allow us to grow our capacity with the least amount of risk,” Allegiant President Andrew Levy said in a release from Allegiant Travel Co. announcing the plan. “This project effectively increases our capacity by 11 percent while lowering our cost per seat. In addition, we expect to fund this through internally generated cash flow.”
The reconfiguration project will result in additional jobs at Allegiant since 166 seats on a plane will require four flight attendants instead of the three currently assigned per flight. The company did not say how many new employees would be hired.
Levy said the investment in the MD-80 fleet is a sign of commitment to the plane, which he called “unquestionably the best aircraft for our business for flights of up to four hours of duration.”
Allegiant currently operates 48 MD-80s, but is purchasing nine more. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to add Boeing 757 jets to its fleet to introduce flights between the West Coast the Hawaiian Islands.
Three 130-seat MD-87 jets the company owns won’t be reconfigured.
CORRECTION: This story originally reported that the change would require three flight attendants instead of two, but has been corrected to say it will require four flight attendants instead of three. | (September 14, 2010)