The context is still not exactly what Boeing expected, but the news has enormous symbolism for the US manufacturer: Alaska Airlines decided to exchange 10 of its A320ceo for 13 new 737 MAX 9. The transaction was closed with Air Lease Corporation, which will take over the Airbus planes as part of the lease payment for the 737.
“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 CEO Brad Tilden.
The US airline, based in Seattle, has a fleet of 48 A320s and 10 A321s and 10 A319s that belonged to Virgin America, which it incorporated in 2018. As a result, Alaska no longer has a unique fleet of Boeing aircraft, but the 737 is its most important jet, with 166 active units.
Most Airbus jets, however, are parked in the face of a drop in air passenger traffic caused by the pandemic. Despite this, Alaska will continue to operate the A320s until the first deliveries of the 737 MAX 9 leased, between the end of 2021 and 2022.
The FAA’s recent approval of the 737 MAX certainly played a decisive role for the company to resume its plans to convert its fleet to the new Boeing aircraft. Alaska has 32 firm orders for the MAX 9 version that are expected to start operating in March 2021.