What To Expect From Alaska Airlines In 2021

There will be two major progressions for Alaska Airlines this year. After much anticipation, the carrier will debut its Boeing 737 MAX and join the oneworld Alliance. This week, Simple Flying spoke with Alaska Airlines’ SVP of fleet, finance and alliances, Nathaniel Pieper, about the Seattle-based carrier’s plans for 2021.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
Alaska Airlines’ first 737 MAX will arrive on January 14th, setting the airline up for a new chapter. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Collaborating well

The airline will become a full member of oneworld on March 31st, and the carrier is focused to make the most out of the move by unlocking the full benefits of being a member. Pieper shares that from a strategic perspective, Alaska joining the alliance is an acknowledgment that to compete, the operator needs to offer global availability and a seamless international network for its passengers and team members. Ultimately, the alliance will help the company develop in the corporate and worldwide travel space.

Alaska Airlines Aircraft
The airline is already preparing for strong partnerships with the likes of Qatar Airways to open up passenger connectivity. Photo: Getty Images

New additions

The other milestone in March is that at the start of the month, Alaska Airlines will enter its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into service. Above all, this move comes amid a significant fleet renewal project. In total, 68 units of the jet are set to join the airline this decade. 13 units of the type will arrive in Seattle this year. Altogether, the firm is eager to experience the advantages of having the planes.

“There are economic reasons to be excited about it. As you would expect, every MAX 9 that we bring in replacing an A320 generates positive financial results for the airline. And it’s also a good strategic outcome, as well, in communicating to our team members and showing that, here is an active decision we’ve made, this our fleet of the future,” Pieper told Simple Flying.

“It takes a long time to deliver 68 airplanes. For us, it’ll be four years, and getting that started, I think, is something that many of us are excited about.”

Alaska Airlines, Mask Exceptions, Middle Seat
The airline’s fleet will go through some noticeable changes over the next few years. Photo: Getty Images

A clear focus

Like most carriers in the United States, Alaska Airlines has had to face considerable challenges amid the global health crisis. However, it managed to adapt with some support and is looking to continue implementing its principal values.

“We’re not the biggest airline in the US, but we think we’ve got a really good thing going, neat core values, very financially strong, stable and conservative,” Pieper added.

“We think we deliver a super product for our guests. We’re a good corporate citizen and a good place to build a career for our 23,000 employees.”

The airline additionally has several new routes to look forward to this year. Seattle to Cincinnati, San Diego to New York JFK, Anchorage to Las Vegas, San Jose to Palm Springs, and Anchorage to Denver are all on the cards. After settling in with the membership with oneworld, there could be more exciting expansions by the time 2021 is over,

Altogether, what are your thoughts about Alaska Airlines’ plans for 2021? How do you feel the carrier will navigate the conditions this year? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the comment section.