Alaska Airlines will sell 10 Airbus A320s, shifting to 13 more-fuel-efficient, leased Boeing 737-9 Max, which will be delivered from the end of 2021 through 2022.
The Seattle-based airline says on 23 November that it will lease back the Airbus aircraft “for a short period of time after the transaction closes”.
The A320s will go to Steven Udvar-Hazy’s Air Lease Corporation, which will also lease the Boeing jets to the carrier.
“We found an opportunity to sell 10 planes that are not in our long-term plans and replace them with 13 of the most-efficient narrowbody aircraft available,” says Alaska’s chief executive Brad Tilden.
The airline said in early October that it was looking to shed the Airbus aircraft, accelerating its cost-saving transition back to an all-Boeing fleet. Alaska had operated only 737s before acquiring Virgin America in 2018.
According to Cirium fleets data, Alaska has 51 A320s, including 30 that are currently in storage.
“These leased Boeing 737-9 aircraft … will fill an important role on Alaska’s diverse route network, bringing the most-technologically advanced and environmentally attractive aircraft type into Alaska’s fleet, just in time as we expect the airline industry will undergo a sustainable recovery starting in 2021,” Udvar-Hazy adds.
Alaska says the Max have more range, ”which opens the possibility of additional non-stop routes and new destinations”.
The 13 Max will be in addition to the 32 aircraft that Alaska currently has on order with Boeing. The airline expects five of those to be delivered by mid-2021. The carrier also operates 166 737NGs, Cirium fleets data show.
Alaska plans to return its 737 Max to its schedule from March 2021, after the FAA re-certificated it last week following a 20-month grounding.