Alaska Air Group, positioning itself to grow as air travel recovers from the pandemic, said Wednesday it will order 13 more Boeing 737 MAXs for its Alaska Airlines mainline fleet and 17 new Embraer 175s for its regional jet fleet.
In December, Alaska ordered 23 Boeing MAXs, and it will now exercise purchase options in that agreement for the additional 13 jets on similar terms. Nine of the extra MAXs will be delivered in 2023 and four in 2024.
Nat Pieper, Alaska’s senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances, in a statement said the expanded order is “another indication that we’re ready for growth.”
Alaska will have a total of 81 MAXs when all on order are delivered. The first 13 MAXs will be flying this year. The MAXs will replace all of Alaska’s Airbus A320s.
Nine of the Embraer jets will be operated by sister carrier Horizon Air and eight by Alaska Air regional partner SkyWest.
Horizon is scheduled to take five of the E175 jets in 2022 and four in 2023. This is in addition to three existing firm E175 orders to be operated by Horizon.
All eight SkyWest aircraft will enter service for Alaska Air in 2022.
Alaska uses the smaller regional aircraft to connect smaller communities to its larger hubs, feeding passengers to mainline routes and helping develop new routes.
Pieper said these “regional aircraft play a huge role in Alaska’s growing network.”
On Wednesday, Alaska also announced that later this year it will begin new nonstop service to Belize City, Belize, from the West Coast. Details will be announced when ticket sales begin in early June.
Belize will be the fourth country Alaska flies to from its West Coast hubs, joining Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Separately on Wednesday, the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airline customer satisfaction rankings were released. These are based on extensive passenger surveys.
For a dozen years through 2019, Alaska had ranked No. 1 in passenger satisfaction among traditional U.S. carriers. Southwest took the No. 1 spot in 2020.
In the 2021 rankings, Alaska came in third behind rivals Delta and Southwest.