The fleet of Alaska Airlines is set to be rejuvenated and expanded with the first arrival of the Boeing 737-8, marking a strategic enhancement to their collection of aircraft and laying the foundation for sustained future success.
Nat Pieper, the airline’s senior vice president of fleet, finance, and alliances, underlined the opportunities this new addition will create.
“The addition of the 737-8 and eventually the 737-10 to our fleet creates new opportunities for us to fly longer nonstop routes and maximise our revenue potential,” he said.
The carrier takes pride in having the most modern fleet among U.S. airlines and looks forward to injecting 15-25 new Boeing aircraft annually from 2024 through 2027.
Alaska Airlines currently holds firm orders for 80 more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and maintains options and purchase rights for an additional 105.
Delivery of their first 737-10 is set for 2025, as part of their adjusted order with Boeing from March 2022.
This order diversification is expected to boost profitability and guest satisfaction by providing more appropriate aircraft size and capabilities for various markets.
A new nonstop Anchorage-New York JFK seasonal route, set to launch on June 13, 2024, will be operated with the 737-8 and will become Alaska’s longest flight, spanning 3,386 miles, offering new nonstop convenience between two key cities.
Moreover, seven more 737-8s are slated for delivery in 2024 for Alaska Airlines, with four joining the fleet in March.
These aircraft, along with the 737-9s and the upcoming 737-10s, share commonality in cockpit design, engines, and components, making for an efficient and streamlined operation.
This growth isn’t confined to the mainline jets; Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional carrier, will be adding nine new Embraer E175s to its fleet, reaching a total of 50 by the end of 2026. Horizon, together with SkyWest which operates 42 E175s for Alaska, highlights the continued growth of the airlines’ regional operations, boosting their combined fleet size to 310 jets.
Attention to guest comfort and experience stays at the forefront, with Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products declaring an investment of $130 million in cabin overhauls for the 737-800 planes. Modifications begin in late 2024 to align with the newer 737-9 and 737-8 planes. He emphasized, “It’s more important than ever that we deliver a consistent product to our guests.”
The cabin enchantments will be evident in the new First Class seats featuring a footrest and seatback device holder, providing impressive spaciousness across the fleet with industry-leading seat pitch averages.
Customers can look forward to these improvements on new 737-8 aircraft starting in the latter part of 2024, with further retrofits to roll out sequentially.
A subset of the 737-800 fleet will receive a cabin refresh ahead of the new configurations completion in 2026 to enhance guest experience, committing to continued investment in comfort and consistency across their fleet.