Alaska Airlines Buying More New Jets

Alaska Airlines has ordered 20 737 MAX 8 jets, shown above, from Boeing for delivery over the next 10 years. It also ordered 17 737 MAX 9s and 13 Next-Generation 737-900ERs. Photo courtesy Boeing.

Alaska Airlines announced Thursday that it’s buying another 50 jets from Boeing.

It already has 25 of the new 737s on order, and options for another 69.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the new order, valued at $5 billion, will be delivered over the next 10 years.

“The timing was right to begin looking at the right airplanes to meet our needs,” she says.

The airline now operates 120 Boeing 737s. The new order includes three designs.

They’re the Next-Generation 900-ERs, the MAX 8s and the MAX 9s. The Max jets are larger, for use on longer flights.

Boeing spokesman Tim Bader says the company’s Renton, Washington, 737 plant employs about 8,000 workers. He says the order boosts Boeing, as well as the airline.

“It provides Alaska with fuel-efficient planes that will serve them today as well as into the future. Additionally, it continues to build the momentum that Boeing Company has in the market with the 737-Max, which is our newest single-aisle airplane,” Bader says.

Those jets will use a new interior design, with larger overhead bins that allow for more headroom. Some will have redesigned leather seats that provide more legroom.

The airline’s Egan says fuel savings are not likely to lower ticket costs. But they could slow price hikes.

She says two-thirds of the 75 planes ordered will replace older jets. The others will allow Alaska to continue adding destinations.

“The remaining one-third, plus the 69 options that we now have, will position us for modest growth over the next decade and customers could look at us adding new routes over the next several years,” Egan says.

The airline says it will begin receiving 737s from the earlier order this month.

More about the 737 MAX:

  • Length: The 737 MAX 8 is 129 feet long and the 737 MAX 9 is slightly larger at 138 feet.
  • Wingspan: The wingspan on the 737 MAX 8 and 9 measures 117 feet, 10 inches.
  • Cruising speed: Both planes have a cruising speed of Mach 0.79 or 586 mph.
  • Range: The 737 MAX 8 can fly up to 4,080 miles and the MAX 9 3,850 miles.
  • Fuel economy: The 737 MAX is expected to be 13 percent more fuel efficient than today’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft.
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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.