Allegiant, the ambitious U.S. ultra low-cost carrier, is taking a swing from its previous plans with an order for 50 Boeing 737 Max 7 and 8 planes and an option for 50 more, a total that would nearly double its fleet.
The surprise is that the airline, which usually shops for used planes to keep costs low, and which only acquired some new Airbus A320s in 2016 to speed up its transition to an all Airbus fleet is now shifting both to new-plane purchase and back to a two-fleet strategy. All of its current 108 planes are A319s and A320s.
Allegiant isn't actually planning to double its fleet, although it does have plans to grow, including more flights to Mexico under a partnership deal with Mexico's Viva Aerobus, but it will need a stream of replacements for some of its older, less fuel-efficient planes. And, Maurice Gallagher, Allegiant CEO, told press that he's not out of the market for good used equipment when the opportunity is there.
While the fuel efficiency of the new planes will represent an operational saving over older planes that will be retired, there are also added costs in training, parts inventory and scheduling with operating two different aircraft types.