Alaska Airlines is about to make a decision that faces many. It has 61 Airbus A319/20/21 that start to come up for lease-end late in 2020 through to 2025.
The question is what does it replace them with? The MAX and keep faith with the majority of its 737 based fleet, and the principle of one type of aircraft is better than two to keep costs down?
Or does it do what many others are faced with, and choosing to do, diversify the risk across a second manufacturer? Is it even safe to rely 100% on one now? No doubt Boeing will be bending over backwards to get the order for what was once the wonderful Virgin America brand.
Since they were ordered Airbus now builds in the US so it’s not just about importing and not being patriotic, either way an order would support US manufacturing and jobs.
Alaska has 37 MAX on order but admits it’s rather fond of its 10 A321neo’s. They have proven to be winners and there’s pretty much no doubt that a MAX 9/10 is no match for an A321neo and now there’s the even longer ranged XL and XLR to choose from.
By the time Alaska start taking delivery Airbus delays will be history and not a consideration.
Alaska is due to get 10 MAX 9 this year but has no idea when.
Alaska also has an easy way in to Airbus – it’s acquisition of Virgin America came with 30 A320neo options it could easily confirm.
Once again the airline has said it will make a decision by years end. It’s said that for the last four years, but this time it’s out of options, the aircraft need ordering and the stage is set for some microscopic drilling down to the nano details – and what for Alaska could be an historic decision.