NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hawaiian Airlines (HA) - Get Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. Report said it has begun to retrofit the interiors of its 18 Boeing (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report 717 aircraft, which currently operate with five different cabin configurations.
The discontinued Boeing 717 is operated by six carriers, led by Delta (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report, which will operate 88 by the end of the year. Australian regional carrier QantasLink also flies 18 aircraft.
Hawaiian uses the 717s to fly 160 daily short-haul flights between the Hawaiian islands. The flights last between 20 minutes and 60 minutes, the airline said.
The retrofits will be completed by the end of 2015 and will mean that all 18 aircraft will have 128 seats. enabling the airline to add five to 10 seats per flight, according to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The airline will install new slimline seats.
"These new, modern design elements rejuvenate the interiors of our Boeing 717s while allowing us to deliver a consistent onboard experience," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian's chief commercial officer, in a prepared statement.
The 717s were the last commercial airplanes produced at the plant in Long Beach, Calif., that Boeing acquired when it merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing made 156 of them, closing out the program with a 2006 delivery to AirTran, which became the biggest customer for the smallish 100-seat aircraft that found the competition from regional jets to be a bit too tough and the commitment from Boeing to be a bit too fragile.
Delta announced in 2013 that it would take over the leases for AirTran's 88 Boeing 717s from Southwest (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, which acquired AirTran but then decided it wanted to stick with a single fleet type, the 737. "We'll have all 88 by year-end," said Delta spokesman Michael Thomas.
The other 717 operators are Finland's Blue1, Spain's Volotea and Turkmenistan Airlines.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.