SEATTLE- Alaska Airlines (AS) continues its growth with the introduction of the initial Boeing 737-8 (737 MAX 8) to its aircraft fleet, marking a significant step in a strategic, long-term plan that leverages its strengths and outlines a roadmap for sustained success.
It takes pride in operating the youngest fleet among all U.S. airlines. From 2024 to 2027, Alaska Airlines is set to incorporate 15-25 new Boeing aircraft annually.
Alaska Airlines First 737 MAX 8
Presently, the US carrier has firm orders for an additional 80 737 MAX aircraft, along with options and purchase rights for 105 more. The delivery of its first 737-10 is slated for 2025.
“The addition of the 737-8 and eventually the 737-10 to Alaska Airlines’ fleet creates new opportunities for the airline to fly longer nonstop routes and maximize its revenue potential,” mentioned Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance, and alliances at Alaska Airlines.
He expressed enthusiasm about the future, stating, “We have achieved terrific results with the 737-9 in guest satisfaction, economics, and fuel efficiency, and we are excited for our future with the other 737 models.”
In March 2022, Alaska adjusted its existing 737-9 aircraft order with Boeing to include the larger 737-10 and longer-range 737-8.
The additional 737 models are expected to enhance profitability and guest satisfaction by providing more options for deploying the optimal aircraft size and capability in each market the airline serves.
For example, Alaska Airlines plans to introduce a new nonstop seasonal route from Anchorage to New York JFK using the 737-8, set to commence on June 13, 2024.
The Anchorage-JFK route, covering a distance of 3,386 miles, is anticipated to become the longest flight operated by Alaska Airlines, providing nonstop convenience between two highly popular cities in the airline’s network.
Seven More to Join in 2024
Scheduled deliveries for Alaska include seven additional 737-8s in 2024, with the next four expected to join the fleet in March. The 737-8, -9, and -10 share a common cockpit, engines, and similar components.
Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional carrier, is also expanding its jet fleet. Over the next three years, Horizon will integrate nine new Embraer E175s, aiming to reach a total of 50 by the end of 2026.
SkyWest, Alaska’s regional partner, presently operates 42 E175s on behalf of the airline. The combined fleet size, encompassing mainline and regional jets, currently stands at 310.
To enhance guest experience, Alaska Airlines plans to invest $130 million in overhauling the cabins of its 737-800 aircraft, with modifications commencing in late 2024.
Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products at Alaska Airlines, emphasized the importance of delivering a consistent product to guests.
“The updates to our older Boeing aircraft will provide a more consistent guest experience on our Boeing fleet by making the cabins look and feel more like our 737-9 and 737-8 aircraft.”Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products at Alaska Airlines
Three Class Configuration
The enhancements to the -800s involve transitioning to a 161-seat configuration, incorporating 16 seats in First Class and new seats in Premium Class and the main cabin. These changes aim to maintain the same spaciousness that guests are currently accustomed to.
The new first-class seats feature a footrest and a seatback device holder, providing guests with an industry-leading seat pitch.
Alaska Airlines proudly stands as the only U.S. airline with an average of 40″ pitch in First Class and 35″ in Premium Class across its mainline fleet.
The airline plans to extend these improvements to new 737-8 deliveries from the second half of 2024, with retrofits scheduled for the first five aircraft at a later date.
Anticipated completion of modifications to the new configuration is set for 2026, and a subset of the -800s is expected to undergo a refresh of the existing cabin in the first half of this year, aiming to enhance the overall guest experience.
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