Alaska Airlines today has announced it has ordered new Embraer E175 aircraft and exercised options on more Boeing 737 MAX jets. Primarily targeting growth, the new Embraers will come to the airline’s subsidiaries in 2022 and 2023, while the MAX jets will be delivered in 2023 and 2024.
Alaska grows fleet with E175s and 737 MAX jets
Expecting to see domestic travel return to pre-crisis levels by summer 2022, Alaska Airlines has decided to further grow its fleet. The carrier will add 17 new Embraer jets to the regional fleet starting in 2022.
Of the 17 new Embraer E175s, nine will be flown by Horizon Air and eight by SkyWest. Alaska has directly ordered the nine jets from Embraer to be delivered to its subsidiary, Horizon Air. The nine E175s are options from a previous Horizon order. Excluding these jets, Horizon had a backlog of three E175s.
Five new E175s will arrive at Horizon in 2022, with the remaining four coming in 2023. All eight SkyWest planes will enter service for Alaska in 2022.
Nat Pieper, Alaska’s senior vice president of fleet, finance, and alliances, stated the following on the regional order:
“We have navigated through the pandemic and we’re on a solid path to recovery. The E175 remains a key part of our strategy. We’re excited about growth in the years ahead, which has always been at the heart of Alaska’s DNA. The E175 is a terrific plane to help us add new routes and frequencies, and to complement our mainline aircraft to meet fluctuating demand with the right capacity.”
Meanwhile, for the mainline fleet, the airline has exercised 13 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft options. Those deliveries will start in 2023. The airline is exercising these options after a restructured Boeing agreement in December 2020, which expanded the airline’s 737 MAX order book.
Nine of the 13 aircraft will be delivered in 2023. Four more will come in 2024.
Targeting growth at Alaska
Alongside the order, Alaska Airlines announced a new international destination. The fourth country to join the carrier’s route network, flights to Belize will be coming soon. Schedules and routes for flights to Belize City will be announced in early June when tickets go for sale.
Alaska Airlines is now a member of the oneworld alliance, and with it, it has access to a new customer base. The airline had previously stated there were many growth opportunities ahead for the airline after joining the alliance. This appears to be the next phase of that growth.
The announcement today will give Alaska 30 more aircraft to schedule for growth from 2022 onwards. As a primarily West Coast carrier, this could mean more options for passengers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and further out in places like Anchorage and even Hawaii.
Alaska Airlines has a history of exercising all of its aircraft options. Exercising 13 options for MAX aircraft will take the airline’s overall MAX order to 81 aircraft, as the airline had amended its order in December to take 68 MAX 9s. Alaska Airlines is left with 39 options.
Alaska Airlines currently has four Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft. The planes are equipped with 178 seats. There is room for 16 passengers in first class, 24 in the extra-legroom economy cabin, and 138 in standard economy.
The Embraer E175s are the carrier’s primary short-haul regional jets, though it does fly those aircraft on some longer routes. The Embraer E175s have no middle seats and are outfitted with 76 seats. This includes 12 in first class, 12 in extra-legroom economy, and 52 in economy.
What do you think of Alaska Airlines’ latest round of fleet expansion? Let us know in the comments!