Alaska Ups Max, E-Jet Commitments
Alaska Airlines has added 30 Boeing 737 Max and Embraer E-Jet commitments to its orderbook for future growth. The orders are split between 13 737-9s for Alaska’s options for the Max that arrive in 2023-24; and 17 E175s for the carrier’s regional affiliates Horizon Air and SkyWest arriving in 2022-23. The deals come just months after Alaska unveiled commitments for 36 new 737-9s that will allow it to retire its last Airbus A320s by 2023.
In a statement, Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances at Alaska, described the dual orders as “another indication that we’re ready for growth.” Barring any yet-to-be disclosed aircraft retirements, the commitments will get Alaska to 335 aircraft by end-2022 — just three planes shy of its pre-crisis target for 2021 — and to 348 aircraft by end-2023. Alaska’s willingness to put money towards its growth ambitions is the latest vote of confidence in the travel recovery.
In meetings with J.P. Morgan analysts last week, Alaska executives expressed confidence in the recovery. Forecasts call for break-even results in the second quarter and a profit in the third quarter, though both will benefit from Uncle Sam’s payroll support largess. They said little about their plans for the next few years.
But Alaska has, to use a phrase from former CEO Brad Tilden, “reracked” its route map to points of strength along the West Coast, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The airline has added more than 20 new routes — including Los Angeles-Boise, San Francisco-Redmond/Bend and Seattle-Redding — in these markets since March 2020, according to Cirium schedules. Many of these are flown by E175s with more such jets expected to bolster this north-south flying.
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