Alaska Airlines is planning to ramp up the presence of its Airbus A320 family aircraft in Seattle. It plans to fly more of the type from the city’s airport while opening up a new pilot base there. These movements are matched by the airline’s plan to close its Airbus pilot base in Los Angeles from the end of 2021.
Along the coast
The Points Guy reports that the Seattle-based carrier is looking to focus more attention on the European aircraft at its Washington state hub. Meanwhile, it will primarily concentrate on using LAX for its Boeing 737s. This is according to both the operator and Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) union.
Next month, nearly a quarter of the airline’s 71 A320 family aircraft services will fly from Seattle. This is a significant amount compared with operations at San Francisco, which 15 percent of A320 family flights depart from and Los Angeles, which sees just 10 percent of the A320 departures.
According to Planespotters, Alaska operates three members of the A320 family within its fleet. Its most variant is the A320-200, with 50 units in the firm’s holdings. The airline also holds 10 A319-100s.
Just like the A320-200s, these all joined the fleet in January 2018 and the bulk of them are on lease from Virgin America. Additionally, Alaska flies 10 A321neo jets. The last of these arrived in October of last year.
An overhaul on the cards
The carrier is currently thinking about what the best route would be when replacing its leased A320 family aircraft. It needs to make a decision soon as these leases are set to run out by 2025.
It reportedly is considering either more A319neos or to further its commitment to the Boeing 737 MAX. With the latter still grounded for nearly a year and there still being uncertainty about its return date, Alaska could sway in the favor of the Airbus aircraft.
Shane Tackett, Alaska’s executive vice president of planning and strategy recently spoke about his company’s plans to replace its existing A319 and A320 jets. Ultimately, he is looking for a cost-effective solution.
“We have an opportunity to replace 61 A319 and A320 aircraft with larger gauge, more efficient assets… [that] would give us the ability to generate more revenue while lower unit costs,” Tackett said, as reported by The Points Guy.
All about balance
Nonetheless, the company is going with an open approach by placing emphasis on the two types at different ends of the United States’ West Coast. Whichever aircraft it invests in for the future will have a home dedicated along the Pacific.
However, there could be a hint that it does see a future with more A320 family aircraft as it has already decided to shift more focus on the type at its home in Seattle.
Simple Flying reached out to Alaska Airlines for comment on its plans for the A320 family. We will update the article with any further announcements
What are your thoughts on Alaska Airlines’ decision to open a new pilot base for its A320 family in Seattle? Let us know what you think of the shift in approach in the comment section.