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Alaska Airlines Takes Delivery of First Longer-range Boeing 737-8

Jan 10, 2024 | News, Transportation

Alaska Airlines 737-8

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines welcomed delivery of the first Boeing 737-8 to its aircraft lineup in December. The plane is the next component of its strategic, long-term fleet plan.

New Regional Planes and Upgrades to 737-800s Coming Soon

Alaska Airlines flies the youngest fleet of all US airlines, and from 2024 through 2027 the company is on track to add fifteen to twenty-five new Boeing aircraft each year. It currently has firm orders for eighty more 737 MAX aircraft and options and purchase rights for another 105. Its first 737-10 is scheduled for delivery in 2025.

“The addition of the 737-8 and eventually the 737-10 to our fleet creates new opportunities for us to fly longer nonstop routes and maximize our revenue potential,” says Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances at Alaska Airlines. “We have achieved terrific results with the 737-9 in guest satisfaction, economics, and fuel efficiency, and we are excited for our future with the other 737 models.”

In March 2022, Alaska adjusted its existing 737-9 aircraft order with Boeing to include the bigger 737-10 and longer-range 737-8. The additional 737 models will enhance profitability and guest satisfaction by offering the company more ways to deploy the optimal aircraft size and capability in each market in which it flies.

For example, Alaska Airlines will add its new nonstop Anchorage-to-New York JFK seasonal route with the 737-8, launching June 13. Anchorage-to-JFK (at 3,386 miles) will become the longest flight Alaska operates, creating nonstop convenience between two of the most popular cities in its network.

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Alaska is scheduled to take delivery of seven additional 737-8s in 2024, with the next four slotted to enter the fleet in March. The 737-8, -9 and -10 all offer a common cockpit, common engines, and similar components.

Alaska’s regional carrier, Horizon Air, also continues to grow its fleet of jets. Over the next three years, Horizon will add nine new Embraer E175s, bringing its total to fifty by the end of 2026. Alaska’s regional partner SkyWest Airlines also operates forty-two E175s on Alaska Airlines’ behalf. The combined fleet size of mainline and regional jets is currently 310.

The addition of the Boeing 737-8 airplanes allows Alaska Airlines to incorporate some longer flights, such as a nonstop Anchorage-to-New York flight, debuting in June.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines travelers will soon enjoy refreshed updates to its 737-800 aircraft. With modifications beginning in late 2024, the company is investing $130 million to overhaul those cabins.

“It’s more important than ever that we deliver a consistent product to our guests,” says Todd Traynor-Corey, managing director of guest products at Alaska Airlines. “The updates we’re making to our older Boeing aircraft will provide a more consistent guest experience on our Boeing fleet by making the cabins look and feel more like our 737-9 and 737-8 aircraft.”

The enhancements to the 737-800s include a move to a 161-seat configuration, with 16 seats in First Class and new seats in Premium Class and main cabin, all while maintaining the same space guests currently enjoy.

While the Alaska Airlines fleet expands, the company has also planned cabin upgrades to planes in the existing fleet.

Alaska Airlines

The new First Class seats feature a footrest and seatback device holder, allowing guests to relax in industry-leading seat pitch. Alaska Airlines is the only US airline with an average of 40-inch pitch in First Class and 35-inch in Premium Class across its mainline fleet. Travelers can expect these same improvements to be featured on new 737-8 deliveries beginning in the second half of 2024 with retrofits coming to the first five aircraft at a later date.

Since modifications of the new configuration are expected to be completed in 2026, a subset of the 737-800s will receive a refresh of the existing cabin in the first half of this year to improve the guest experience.

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Welcome to the 2024 Best of Alaska Business special section! For the ninth time we invited our readers to tell us which Alaska businesses they love the most, this year in forty-four categories. Throughout the month of March, you told us who should be featured in these pages, and we're thrilled to be able to publish the results.
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