Alaska Airlines announced today an agreement in principle with Boeing to restructure the airline’s order to receive a total of 68 Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft with options for an additional 52 planes.
Alaska is scheduled to receive 13 planes in 2021; 30 in 2022; 13 in 2023; and 12 in 2024. The delivery schedule will largely replace Alaska’s Airbus fleet and moves the airline substantially toward a single, mainline fleet that’s more efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly, and that will enhance the guest experience and support the company’s growth. This restructured agreement with Boeing incorporates Alaska’s announcement last month to lease 13 737-9 aircraft.
The agreement delivers superior economics to Alaska while providing flexibility in the final delivery schedule for the airline to optimize its fleet plan as the industry recovers. It also enables two major Pacific Northwest employers – Alaska and Boeing – to continue to support and revive jobs as the region and nation recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, fueling economic opportunity and growth in the coming decade.
After significant work to manage costs and liquidity through the pandemic, support employees and jobs, and to ensure the safety of both employees and guests, Alaska’s priority is to establish strong recovery and growth in the decade ahead. Alaska also prefers to own aircraft when it makes the best financial sense for the company. This decision enables the company to exit 61 expensive, short-term leases for its Airbus fleet that were inherited by Alaska through its acquisition of Virgin America. Furthermore, compared to the Airbus A320, the 737-9 has more seats, better fuel efficiency, lower emissions and lower maintenance costs.
The agreement includes mechanisms to adjust the timing of deliveries to meet economic conditions, giving the airline substantial flexibility to manage its fleet in step with network demand. Alaska’s 52 aircraft options are for deliveries between 2023 to 2026.
TOTAL ORDERS: 68 737-9 Aircraft
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TOTAL OPTIONS: 52 737-9 Aircraft
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The 737-9 will replace all A319 and A320 aircraft in Alaska’s fleet to improve the airline’s overall operational, financial and environmental performance. With this plan, Alaska will reduce its Airbus fleet to 10 A321neos by the summer of 2023.
The 737-9 is 20% more fuel efficient and generates approximately 20% less carbon emissions per seat than the A320. Its larger, improved engines fly significantly quieter, and the Boeing Sky Interior lends a feeling of spaciousness to the cabin. The 737-9 can also fly up to 600 miles farther, which opens the possibility of new nonstop routes and destinations.
Alaska plans to begin revenue service with its first 737-9 in March 2021, with five additional aircraft expected to begin flying by summer 2021.