Alaska Airlines has recently announced the expansion of its fleet with the addition of the Boeing 737-8, marking a significant step in its long-term strategic fleet plan. This plan emphasizes the airline’s commitment to maintaining the youngest fleet among U.S. airlines and outlines a schedule for integrating 15-25 new Boeing aircraft annually from 2024 through 2027.
The airline has confirmed firm orders for 80 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, along with options and purchase rights for an additional 105 units. The first Boeing 737-10 is expected to join Alaska Airlines‘ fleet in 2025.
In March 2022, Alaska Airlines revised its existing order for 737-9 aircraft with Boeing to include the larger 737-10 and the longer-range 737-8 models. This adjustment is aimed at enhancing profitability and customer satisfaction by enabling the deployment of aircraft that are optimally sized and equipped for various markets.
Inaugural Anchorage-New York JFK Route to Become Alaska's Longest Flight
One of the key routes that will benefit from the new 737-8 aircraft is the Anchorage-New York JFK seasonal nonstop service, set to commence on June 13, 2024. This route, covering a distance of 3,386 miles, will be the longest in Alaska Airlines’ network, directly connecting two major cities.
The airline is poised to receive seven additional 737-8s in 2024, with four scheduled to join the fleet in March. The 737-8, -9, and -10 models share common features such as cockpit design, engines, and other components, facilitating operational efficiency.
Horizon Air's Fleet Expansion with Embraer E175s
Additionally, Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional carrier, is expanding its fleet with the introduction of nine Embraer E175s over the next three years, bringing its total to 50 by the end of 2026. Alaska Airlines’ regional partner, SkyWest, operates 42 E175s for the airline, contributing to a combined fleet size of 310 mainline and regional jets.
Alaska Airlines also plans to refresh its 737-800 aircraft, starting in late 2024, with an investment of $130 million. The revamped -800s will feature a new 161-seat configuration, including 16 First Class seats and updated seating in Premium Class and the main cabin. The First Class seats will include a footrest and a seatback device holder, offering a seat pitch that is notable in the industry: an average of 40″ in First Class and 35″ in Premium Class across Alaska Airlines’ mainline fleet. These enhancements will also be integrated into the new 737-8 deliveries from the second half of 2024, with retrofits planned for the first five aircraft at a later date.
The modification of the new configuration on the -800s is expected to be completed by 2026. In the interim, a subset of these aircraft will receive a cabin refresh in the first half of this year to enhance the customer experience.