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Alaska Air places biggest order in its history for Boeing 737s

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:33 am |
October 11, 2012 7:53 am

Two Puget Sound-based businesses today announced they’ve signed a $5 billion deal.

SeaTac’s Alaska Airlines said it has signed an order for 50 new Boeing 737s, the biggest order in the airline’s history.

That order includes 20 737 Max 8s, 17 737 Max 9s and 13 Next Generation 737-900ERs. At list prices, the order is worth $5 billion. All 737s are built in Boeing’s Renton factory.

Alaska Air 737 Max 8
Alaska Airlines 737 Max 8

The Max aircraft are the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737. They’re equipped with new engines, split wingtips and aerodynamic improvements to cut fuel consumption 13 percent over the best present-generation single-aisle jets.

The Next Generation planes, despite their name, are the present generation of 737s. The 737-900ER is the largest version of the 737. The aircraft has extended range capabilities over the 737-900.

“This order positions us for growth and ensures that we’ll continue to operate the quietest and most fuel-efficient aricraft available for the forseeable future,” said Alaska President Brad Tilden.

Alaska’s 120-plane fleet is all Boeing 737s. Its sister airline, Horizon Air, which flies for Alaska under the Alaska name, has a fleet of turboprop Bombardier Q400s.

The first 737 Max 8 is the middle capacity plane in the Max lineup. The Max 9 is the largest of the Max generation of jetliners.

The first of the Max aircraft is due to enter service with any airline beginning in 2017.

Existing and new orders for the 737-900ER will be delivered starting in late October 2012 and continue through 2017. The first 737 MAX 8 is scheduled to enter Alaska’s fleet in 2018 followed by the first 737 MAX 9 in 2019. Alaska is the third U.S. airline to order the MAX.

The airline said it would use two-thirds of the new planes to replace existing aircraft. The remainder will expand the fleet.

The airline has several 737-400s in its fleet which are likely to be replaced within the next few years by newer planes.

The airline could replace its smaller 737-700 Next Generation aircraft with larger 737-900ERs or 737 Max 8s and 9s to increase capacity on existing routes.

The new order raises the total number of 737 Max orders to 858, said Boeing.

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