It won’t truly be “Proudly all Boeing” as was painted on the nose for many years, but Alaska Airlines is moving aggressively back in that direction. The carrier announced an expanded order book with Boeing for the 737 MAX today, with plans for a total of 68 firm orders of the 737-9 type. An additional 52 options are also included.
We believe in this airplane, we believe in our strong partnership with Boeing, and we believe in the future of Alaska Airlines and the incredible opportunities ahead as we climb our way out of this pandemic. We could not ask for a better partner than Boeing and we are delighted to be standing side by side with them as we work together to get our economy back on its feet.– Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group
The new orders include the 13 leased 737-9 planes announced last month and, in total, more than doubles the firm commitment to the type. In October 2012 the company announced plans for 32 firm orders and another 37 options. The updated numbers add 36 additional frames to the firm order book and 15 more options.
Deliveries begin in 2021 with 13 frames. An additional 30 are due in 2022, followed by 13 in 2023 and 12 in 2024. The 52 options are available for deliveries between 2023 and 2026, giving the carrier flexibility depending on industry recovery pacing.
Initial indications suggest the interior of the MAX 9 models will match the 737-900s with 178 seats in a three-cabin configuration.
The order and quick delivery timing also allow the company to further retire its A320 family fleet acquired in the Virgin America transaction. With this order the carrier confirms it will remove all A320s, and the A319s previously departed the fleet as part of COVID-related restructuring. The ten A321neo frames will remain in the fleet, at least for now.
The carrier notes that it prefers to own aircraft rather than lease, part of the motivation to “exit 61 expensive, short-term leases for its Airbus fleet that were inherited by Alaska through its acquisition of Virgin America.” The company also highlights the increased seating capacity, better fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and lower maintenance costs of the newer planes.
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