This clears up some of the confusion:
CHICAGO, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Boeing Co., the world's No. 1 jet maker, said on Thursday that AirTran Airways swapped nine unfilled orders for new 717s this week while confirming plans to lease 22 of the used narrowbody jetliners.
AirTran, an Orlando, Florida-based low-cost carrier, plans to lease 23 Boeing 717-200s through Boeing's financing subsidiary, Boeing Capital Corp., for delivery next year under plans to have an all 717 fleet by the end of 2003.
All but one of the 717s were returned to Boeing by American Airlines parent AMR Corp., the world's largest carrier, after it bought TWA and decided to reduce the number of airplane types it uses to help cut maintenance costs.
"Boeing made us a tremendous deal on these used airplanes," AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said. "Some have been used two years and some have even only been painted and not flown so they are almost new."
As a result of the deal, AirTran reduced the number of options it will have on new planes, Hutcheson said.
"AirTran is substituting nine contractually firm airplanes from its orders," Boeing spokeswoman Patricia York said.
Airlines have postponed hundreds of jet deliveries because of the prolonged air industry slump that was exacerbated by the Sept. 11 attacks. Larger air carriers such as Delta Air Lines and AMR have announced plans to defer deliveries in a fight to regain profitability.
But AirTran eked out a small third-quarter profit and expects to report a profit for the fourth quarter and for 2002, in contrast to huge losses at most of the large airlines that operate through hub networks.
AMR returned 24 of the 717s it had to Boeing and with the AirTran deal, Boeing has now placed all of those airliners. After the deductions this week, the 717 order book will stand at 153 planes, Boeing said.
The 717 was designed as a replacement for DC-9s and AirTran will use them to phase out the remaining DC-9s it has in its fleet. AirTran will receive about two 717s per month.
The planes returned from AMR had from 100 to 106 seats and Boeing will outfit them with 117 seats for AirTran.
At the end of next year, AirTran expects to have a fleet of 73 Boeing 717s with six options and 20 purchase rights, Hutcheson said. AirTran will not announce its fleet plans for 2004 until sometime next year, he said.
I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.