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Alaska Airlines Orders 23 Boeing 737 MAX 9
Just one month after increasing orders for the Boeing 737 MAX 9, Alaska Airlines has announced yet another new order for the type with Boeing. While last month’s order involved leased aircraft, this announcement is for the purchase of 23 airframes.
The order will increase the airline’s total to 68 MAX 9 aircraft on order, with deliveries starting in 2021. Included in the most recent order was an option to add 15 additional frames for delivery between 2023 and 2026. Overall, the airline has options for 52 additional aircraft should they wish to exercise them.
The current order along with the carrier’s lease agreement for 13 aircraft in November shows a clear intent on focusing on Boeing. By the summer of 2023, the airline will have replaced its whole Airbus fleet, much of which the airline added to its fleet in its merger with Virgin America. While the airline will continue to operate its fleet of 10 Airbus A321neo aircraft, the future for Alaska is mainly Boeing.
In an 8-K SEC filing, Alaska stated the decision to turn away from the Airbus family was a financial one, citing expensive short-term leases on the Airbus A319 and A320 fleets. The company also stated that the 737 MAX 9 features more seats than an Airbus A320 along with being more fuel-efficient and featuring lower emissions and maintenance costs.
Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said, “We are extremely proud to be announcing this transformative agreement with Boeing. 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.”
With first deliveries starting early in 2021, the airline is expecting to take 13 deliveries in 2021, 30 in 2022, 13 in 2023 and the final 12 deliveries in 2024. In addition to taking its first deliveries in 2021, the airline plans to begin revenue operation of the type in March 2021. Although there have already been some Alaska 737 MAX 9s produced and painted in the airline’s livery, the carrier had not taken delivery of any of the type before the 737 MAX family was grounded in March 2019.
Alaska became the first U.S.-based carrier to place an order for the type following its ungrounding by the FAA in November 2020. Ryanair was the first airline to place a major order for the type after ungrounding, increasing its order numbers by 75 aircraft.
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