Alaska Airlines is moving towards the retirement of its Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline pulled out even more planes in the third quarter as it weighed in on a fleet shakeup, but a cloud of uncertainty still surrounded the airline’s decisions.
Regularly park more planes
In the third quarter of 2020, Alaska Airlines has permanently parked eight more Airbus A320 aircraft. These eight are in a group of 10 Airbus A320 aircraft that have been specifically identified by the airline for retirement prior to the end of their service life.
During the first quarter, Alaska decided to permanently remove 12 Airbus aircraft from its fleet. This includes all ten of the airline’s Airbus A319s.
For now, no further Airbus retirement is expected by 2020, although that doesn’t mean it will stay the same. Alaska Airlines has always assessed its fleet, and it may decide to park more of these jets – especially if the Boeing 737 MAX finally joins its fleet.
Why the retirement more will not shock
Alaska Airlines makes no secret that it is a fan of Boeing. For many years, the airline was “Proud of Boeing” and is currently dealing with a mixed fleet after merging with Virgin America, giving the airline a fleet of Airbus A319, A320 and A321neos. In addition, Alaska Airlines also has reversible purchase commitments for 30 Airbus A320neo aircraft.
However, this order was not placed directly by Alaska Airlines. The airline has 32 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on order, with the option of adding 37 aircraft of the same class. For a while, it made sense to keep both aircraft orders around. Now, though, it’s time for Alaska Airlines to make a decision about what they want to do with both orders as they weigh a fleet shakeup.
It is clear that Alaska Airlines is looking to scrape its Airbus fleet as best it can in recent months. It also faces unattractive leases to break down.
Now, with cost-cutting and profit-making in the airline’s mind, the airline is returning to what it knows: fleet simplicity. Alaska feels more comfortable with its 737 fleet and shows no qualms about taking over the 737 MAX after it resumes service. Therefore, if the airline can guarantee delivery of the 737 MAX by the end of the year or even in early 2021, the airline could push time to withdraw more A320 aircraft from its fleet.
With Alaska’s comments, perhaps only a few years left the Airbus fleet will fly in the airline’s service. When the lease expires in the next three years, they will likely be laid off unless the airline gets a great deal on those jets.
Why does Alaska Airlines continue to order Airbus A320neo
Alaska Airlines is playing smart here. For now, they know that both Boeing and Airbus have the opportunity to purchase newer next-generation jets at the right prices. This is especially true when Alaska Airlines is reportedly in discussions with Boeing to buy more 737 MAX planes. Since it is not necessary that Boeing will win an order, the airline may have an attractive price – attractive enough for it to order more Airbus aircraft. The A321neos is a bright jewel in Alaska’s fleet, and the airline has hailed the plane.
The airline will convert its A320neo order to A321neos, nor will it cancel the planes entirely. For now, however, it is clear that the Airbus A320s are on their way out. Alaska Airlines has shown that it will retire its aircraft even before the end of its run, a decision some airlines make unless they need to secure a most cost-effective structure. are based on lower maintenance and are less efficient.
If Alaska Airlines takes in more 737 MAX planes, especially the white tails Boeing is trying to sell, then it is certain that the A320 family is in the favor.
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