Alaska Airlines orders 10 more 737s as it battles with Delta
Alaska Air ordered 10 additional 737-900ERs, at an estimated market price of more than half a billion dollars, meaning it now has 74 single-aisle jets on order from Boeing as it battles to protect its home turf.
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Alaska Airlines announced Monday it has ordered 10 more Boeing 737-900ERs, at an estimated total market price of more than half a billion dollars.
With this deal, Alaska’s order book grows to 37 of the current 737-900ERs — with one due to be delivered this week and the rest coming over the next three years.
The carrier also has 37 of the new 737 MAX family on order, for delivery from 2018.
The airline, which has an existing fleet of 136 single-aisle 737s, plans to use the new planes to replace aging 737 Classics and to expand service out of its Seattle hub.
“We’re doubling down on our strength in Seattle,” said Alaska Air Group Chief Executive Brad Tilden. “We have a very strong franchise here. It’s important we protect what we’ve got.”
That’s a reference to Alaska’s battle to maintain its dominance at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport against a rapid expansion by Atlanta-based airline giant Delta.
The latest passenger traffic data from the Port of Seattle, which runs the airport, suggests that so far Alaska is holding its own.
In August, Alaska’s passenger traffic through Sea-Tac was up 9.4 percent compared with a year earlier, roughly in line with overall traffic growth at the airport, thanks to a strong local economy.
For the year through August, the hometown airline carried 51 percent of all the passengers passing through the airport. Delta’s share of Sea-Tac passenger traffic climbed to just shy of 15 percent, almost 2 points higher than four months earlier.
Delta’s growth is affecting the market share of international carriers out of Sea-Tac more than Alaska’s.
Year-to-date through August, United's passenger traffic at the airport was down 7 percent compared with the previous year.
Meanwhile, Alaska continues to grow. In 2010, Alaska flew 114 Boeing 737s. By 2017, with some older jets retired and the new orders coming in, the fleet should grow to 147 of the jets.
In addition to Boeing, another local company will win business from Alaska’s order: Aviation Partners Boeing (APB), which designs and sells new winglets for the 737.
Alaska is modifying the wingtips on its existing 737s and on the latest ones rolling out, replacing the standard Boeing upward-sweeping winglets with the APB-designed “split-scimitar” models that have parts curving both upward and downward.
The drag-reducing aerodynamics of the APB winglets improve the airplane’s fuel efficiency by roughly 1.5 percent.
To underscore its hometown roots against the interloper from Atlanta, Alaska has organized a Seattle-area scavenger hunt for Friday, with prizes including pairs of free flight tickets and the opportunity to fly a Boeing 737 in a simulator.
Details are on the Alaska Airlines blog at blog.alaskaair.com/.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published Oct. 6, 2014, and corrected Oct. 17, 2014. A previous version of this story referred incorrectly to the decline of United passenger traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. United's passenger traffic at the airport — not its share of total airport traffic — is down 7 percent year-on-year.