Alaska airlines flight arriving at Bozeman Airport
Alaska Airlines flight arriving at Bozeman Airport, Montana on February 12th. Photo: Twitter @Bozemanairport

Alaska Airlines confirmed yesterday it is advancing its plans to retire its Airbus jets, hoping to become an all-Boeing operator by the end of next year.

The Seattle-based airline’s subsidiary, Horizon Air, announced plans to operate exclusively with Embraer E-175s.

The statement was made in advance of an upcoming investor conference planned in New York City. The airline hopes the move will result in “operational simplicity, flexibility, scalability, better fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance costs”.

Airbus jets out, new Boeing jets in

Alaska’s current batch of Airbus jets joined its fleet via the airline’s acquisition of Virgin America in 2016. It operated 40 Airbus A320s, including 30 A320ceos and 10 A321neos. They now comprise approximately 20% of the carrier’s fleet.

Existing plans released by the airline outlined an intention to retire its A320ceo jets by the end of 2023 but made no mention of the A321neo fleet. As such, the airline’s most recent statement has fast-forwarded its plans to become a Boeing-only operator.

alaska airlines acquired its airbus fleet in 2016
Alaska acquired the Virgin America brand, along with its Airbus fleet, in 2016 | © Quintin Soloviev

Along with phasing out some jets, Alaska has concurrent plans to grow its fleet of Boeing jets. North America’s sixth-largest airline currently has on order 71 737 Max aircraft.

According to Airfleets, Alaska’s subsidiary regional operator, Horizon, currently operates 32 De Havilland Canada DHC-8 propeller aircraft, in addition to its 30 E-175s.

Some aircraft to be repurposed

Following a common trend among commercial airlines, Alaska also announced during its investor event its intention of converting two of its older 737 passenger jets into freighters in the hope of tapping into a surge in demand for air freight capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An intention of growing its route network by around 5% a year over the next three years was also confirmed by the airline, further demonstrating its hopes of going from strength to strength in the coming years.

What do you think of Alaska’s recent fleet and route announcements? Let us know in the comments below.


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