Alaska Airlines has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737-9 MAX aircraft, marking a new phase of the airline’s fleet modernization in the coming years.
The airline’s pilots flew the plane on a short flight from Boeing’s Seattle Delivery Center to the company’s hangar at Sea-Tac International Airport Sunday with a small group of Alaska Airlines’ top leaders on board.
“We have been looking forward to this day. It has been a proud moment to board our newest 737 aircraft and fly it home,” said Alaska Airlines President Ben Minicucci. “This airplane is an important part of our future. We believe in it, we believe in Boeing and we believe in our employees, who will undergo the next five weeks of training to ensure we are prepared to fly it safely to our passengers.”
The company’s first 737-9 is scheduled to enter service March 1 with daily round-trip flights between Seattle and San Diego, and Seattle and Los Angeles. The airline’s second 737-9 is expected to enter service in late March.
In December, the airline announced a restructured order agreement with Boeing to take delivery of a total of 68 737-9 MAX aircraft over the next four years, with options for an additional 52 aircraft. The airline is scheduled to take delivery of 13 aircraft this year; 30 in 2022; 13 in 2023; and 12 in 2024.
These 68 aircraft will largely replace the fleet of Airbus aircraft and will move the airline substantially toward a single fleet.