Alaska Goes All-In on Boeing, Accelerating Plans to Retire A320 Aircraft
March 24, 2022
By David Slotnick, The Points Guy
Alaska Airlines said Thursday that it was accelerating its plans to simplify its fleet, becoming an all-Boeing operator at the mainline level by the end of 2023 and sticking entirely with Embraer E-175 jets at regional subsidiary Horizon Air.
The update came ahead of an investor conference the airline planned to hold in New York City.
“As the fleet grows to 400 aircraft by mid-decade, these [changes] will [result in] operational simplicity, flexibility and scalability, better fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance costs,” the airline wrote in the update.
Alaska currently operates 40 Airbus A320-family aircraft, according to Airfleets.net, including 30 Airbus A320ceos and 10 A321neos — about 20% of its fleet. Alaska Airlines acquired the planes via its 2016 acquisition of Virgin America.
The new timeline would shave several years off Alaska’s plan to shift the entirety of its mainline operation to Boeing’s 737 narrow-body platform. The airline had previously planned to phase out the A320ceos by the end of 2023, although it had not announced its intentions for the leased A321neo fleet.
The airline has outstanding orders for 71 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, according to Boeing, including the -8, -9, and -10 variants.
Horizon, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, currently has 32 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-Q400 propeller aircraft, in addition to its fleet of 30 E-175s, according to Airfleets.
As part of the investor event curtain-raiser, Alaska also said that it would convert two of its older 737-800 passenger aircraft into freighters, seeking to capitalize on the surge in air cargo demand that began during the pandemic. The airline currently has three smaller 737-700 freighters.
The airline also noted that it planned to expand its network, growing 4% to 8% per year through 2025.