Boeing delivered the last two 717-200 jetliners to customers at its Long Beach, California factory. It marked to the end of a program filled with promise but that had ultimately failed to capture the interest of airlines. Even Boeing’s well-oiled sales operation could only manage to muster up 156 orders for the little 100-seat, short-haul-airliner.
Currently, the 717 is operated primarily by four airlines; Delta, Hawaiian, Qantas, and Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea. With 91 of the planes in its fleet, Delta is the by far the type’s largest operator.
Incredibly, a decade after being axed from Boeing’s lineup, airlines are scouring the planet looking for available Boeing 717s.
«These guys keep begging me to give them more 717s,» Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior vice president of sales for the Asia Pacific and India, told Business Insider. «But that era over and it’s not going to happen.»
So how did a plane Boeing couldn’t sell become an aircraft that airlines can’t get enough of?
The difficult life of the 717
Well, there are several reasons, but first some background. Even though the 717 carries both the Boeing name and company’s signature 7X7 naming scheme, it’s not actually a Boeing. Rub on that Boeing logo with a brillo pad and some soapy water and you’ll soon find the words McDonnell Douglas imprinted on the plane…