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HomeTravelAlaska Airlines Gives Boeing a Big Order With an Eye to Expansion

Alaska Airlines Gives Boeing a Big Order With an Eye to Expansion

The Wednesday order is part of a spate of ambitious purchases announced as the industry has emerged from the depths of the pandemic. Last year, Southwest announced plans to buy 100 Max planes, while United Airlines said it planned to buy 200 Max jets and 70 Airbus planes. This summer, Delta Air Lines said it planned to buy 100 Max 10s, with the first deliveries expected in 2025.
Travel demand remains strong, but airlines have started to warn investors that industry growth may be limited as Boeing and Airbus struggle to overcome delays in delivering new aircraft. American said this month that it expected to receive 19 Max 8 planes next year, down from the 27 previously expected. United this month also said that some of the 179 aircraft deliveries it expected for next year could be delayed.
Boeing is racing to meet an end-of-year deadline to get the Max 7 and Max 10 certified by federal regulators. If it fails to do so — or fails to get an extension passed by Congress — it will have to substantially overhaul the plane’s pilot-alerting system to meet more stringent standards. Boeing and others have argued that the overhaul would be costly and counterproductive, leaving the two Max variants with a different system from other 737s.
Alaska said it did not plan its first Max 10 delivery until the summer of 2024 and would take Max 9s if the Max 10 was unavailable. Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said this month that the airline had a “plan B” if the Max 10 was not certified in time for Delta’s expected deliveries.
Boeing on Wednesday reported mixed quarterly results, with big losses from its defense business offset by a better-than-expected cash flow. Revenue from its commercial airplane unit was up 40 percent in the third quarter from the same period last year, partly because of resumed deliveries of the twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner after a long delay. Overall, deliveries in the quarter were up 32 percent from last year.
Alaska has also overcome struggles that plagued it and other airlines earlier in the year. Fast-spreading Omicron cases in the winter decimated its crews while heavy snows and strong winds disrupted flights in the Seattle area, causing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights. Problems arose again in the spring, caused by limited pilot availability. That led the airline to scale back its summer schedule to be better prepared for disruptions.
The decision paid off. Transportation Department data show that Alaska had the best on-time performance of any major U.S. carrier in June and July. During those busy summer months, about 80 percent of Alaska flights were on time. Fewer than 1 percent were canceled, while the rest were delayed for various reasons, many of them out of the airline’s control.

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