Alaska receives first 737 MAX 8, plans retrofits for existing fleet

Alaska Airlines has recently reached a significant milestone in its ongoing fleet overhaul. The Seattle-based carrier has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and has plans to overhaul dozens of its existing jets. The arrival of the MAX 8 is just one step in a larger series of aircraft deliveries that Alaska has planned for the next several years.

Alaska Airlines plans to add between 15 and 25 new Boeing planes each year until 2027, totaling billions of dollars in spending. The company currently has firm orders for 80 more 737 MAX jets, with options and purchase rights for an additional 105. This includes plans for more than 40 MAX 10s in the future.

The new MAX 8 aircraft will have a cabin configuration that can seat 159 passengers, with 12 in the first-class cabin, 30 in the premium cabin, and 117 in the main cabin. While the MAX 8 is new to Alaska’s fleet, the 737 MAX itself is not. The carrier already operates 65 MAX 9s, which is the second-largest aircraft type in its fleet.

Although the MAX 9 can carry more passengers, the MAX 8 has a longer range. Alaska Airlines executives see the MAX 8 as a key player for high-performing routes, offering new opportunities for longer nonstop flights. In fact, the carrier has already announced plans to fly the MAX 8 between New York’s JFK Airport and Anchorage, Alaska, starting in June.

In addition to adding new planes, Alaska Airlines is also planning to overhaul its older Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The company is investing $130 million to update the cabins of these planes to offer a consistent product and to align the interior with the new MAX 8s and MAX 9s.

The retrofits will include adding two additional seats, bringing the capacity of the 737-800s from 159 to 161 passengers. The first-class cabin will see the biggest change, increasing from 12 seats to 16, a 33% increase. The entire cabin will also receive new seat covers, cushions, carpeting, lighting, bulkheads, cabin dividers, and seatback device holders.

The retrofit process will begin this month on 20 of the 737-800s, with all of these aircraft receiving some form of new interior by 2025. This overhaul is part of Alaska Airlines’ commitment to providing a consistent and modern experience for its passengers.

This fleet overhaul is just one aspect of Alaska Airlines’ future growth plans. The company recently announced its intention to acquire Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9 billion deal, with both carriers continuing to operate as separate brands. The combined company would have over 360 aircraft, according to Alaska executives.

In conclusion, Alaska Airlines has reached a new milestone in its fleet overhaul with the introduction of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The company has plans to add more Boeing planes to its fleet over the coming years, including the retrofitting of older aircraft. This commitment to fleet modernization is part of Alaska’s larger growth strategy, which includes potential acquisitions and expanding its network.

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