Alaska Airlines is interested in Boeing's recently-announced re-engined 737 offering, though the carrier has yet to make any decisions about the type's future in its fleet.
"We are very much in favour of lower fuel burn, and if Boeing can do this sooner rather than later, that's a good a thing", said Bill Ayer, CEO of Alaska parent Alaska Air Group during the company's second quarter earnings call.
"We just learned about this, really, yesterday, like everybody else," said Brandon Pederson, company CFO.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said 20 July that he planned to recommend re-engining the 737 to the Boeing board of directors in August, with a formal authority to offer expected in the fourth quarter.
"We're all in favour of saving money on our fuel bill, but in terms of how that affects our orderbook, our fleet, our capex, it's just too early to tell," Pederson added.
Initial estimates of the fuel burn improvement have spanned from 10-12% and as high as 15% depending on the final configuration that is selected.
Ayer also said "we will be very interested to learn more about this airplane and we look forward to taking delivery of some, if everything looks right in terms of the cost and the fuel burn and so forth".
Boeing expects to firm the configuration of the new variant within three to four weeks as it concludes deliberations about the fan size of the CFM International Leap-X engine that will exclusively power the new aircraft, which is slated for an entry into service sometime mid-decade.
"We have a fleet plan and an orderbook with Boeing right now that we're happy with in terms of numbers of airplanes and timing of airplanes, and I think the idea would be that this new airplane would just slot into that whenever it's available", he continued.
According to a filing with US regulators, Alaska said it is scheduled to take delivery of six 737-800s in 2012, three in 2013, one in 2014, and two in 2015.
It will also take delivery of six and seven 737-900ERs in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Alaska added the 737-900ER to its orderbook this past January.
The company also said in the filing that it has options for 42 more 737s.
Alaska exclusively operates the Boeing 737 in its fleet, operating the -400, -700, -800, and -900 variants.