The Boeing 717 is the culmination of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 family. A derivative that Boeing ended up taking up after acquiring McDonnell Douglas, the aircraft was in production for only eight short years that produced a total of 156 aircraft. Today, only four carriers fly the Boeing 717s.
Delta Air Lines
By far the largest operator of the Boeing 717, Delta Air Lines currently flies 65 of the type. Delta configures the aircraft with only 110 passengers. This includes 12 in first class, 20 in extra-legroom economy, and 78 in standard economy. Notably, these are the only aircraft in Delta’s mainline fleet that do not have any on-demand seatback entertainment screens.
At its peak, Delta flew 91 Boeing 717s. Starting in 2013, Delta began taking the Boeing 717 aircraft. These were coming from Southwest Airlines, which took over the aircraft when it acquired AirTran Airways. However, Southwest only wanted to stick with one fleet type, the Boeing 737, so it found a home for them at Delta.
Unfortunately, Delta has indicated that the 717s are reaching the end of their usable life span with the Atlanta-based carrier. It has set out plans to retire all of the 717s by December of 2025. Already, the carrier has taken out 26 jets from its fleet.
Delta primarily flies the Boeing 717s on short-haul domestic routes, such as from Detroit to Washington D.C., Atlanta to Charlotte, Atlanta to Houston, and more.
Hawaiian Airlines needed an aircraft that would serve them well on intra-island flights. Turning to Boeing, the carrier opted to take 717s for its island services and has not looked back. Hawaiian’s Boeing 717s seat up to 128 passengers. This includes eight in first class and 120 in economy.
Hawaiian Airlines operates 19 of these aircraft according to data from Planespotters.net. These aircraft, with an average age of 18.9 years old, are also getting old, but Hawaiian has not yet selected a replacement for the 717s. It does, however, have plans to begin to replace the fleet in the middle of this decade.
Qantas uses the Boeing 717 on regional routes across Australia. The planes come in two different configurations. Qantas outfits one with 12 business class seats and 98 economy class seats. Another is just 125 economy class seats.
Data from Planespotters.net shows that Qantas has 20 Boeing 717s in its fleet, all operated under contract out to another carrier. However, Qantas has now brought those 717s in-house after reaching an agreement with Cobham Aviation Services in May of 2020.
Qantas has not yet announced a replacement for the Boeing 717s. While the A220 has been on Qantas’ mind, and is an aircraft another 717 operator, Delta Air Lines, took on, the Australian giant has yet to order the aircraft and appears content with the planes for now.
Last but not least is Spanish carrier Volotea. With 10 Boeing 717s in its fleet, according to Planespotters.net, the airline is the smallest of these four carriers in terms of Boeing 717 operations. Volotea is Europe’s only Boeing 717 operator and configures its aircraft with 125 seats in a single-class configuration.
Volotea is looking to the Airbus A320 family for a replacement for the Boeing 717s. Aviation Week reported in 2019 that the carrier was looking to remove its Boeing 717s by 2022, in favor of Airbus A319s.
Which Boeing 717 operator is your favorite? Have you flown on the Boeing 717? Will you be sad to see these aircraft leave the sky? Let us know in the comments!