Alaska Airlines plans to retire its Airbus family of aircraft as well as its Bombardier Q400 propeller aircraft by the end of 2023 in an effort to simplify the fleet to save on costs.
Alaska Airlines is the combined Alaska Airlines mainline fleet as well as Horizon Air, Alaska’s owned regional subsidiary flying under the Alaska flag.
The current fleet consists of these aircraft:
- 35 Airbus A320s (Alaska Airlines)
- 10 Airbus A321neos (Alaska Airlines)
- 11 Boeing 737-700s (Alaska Airlines)
- 61 Boeing 737-800s (Alaska Airlines)
- 91 Boeing 737-900s (Alaska Airlines)
- 16 Boeing 737 MAX 9s (Alaska Airlines)
- 63 Embraer E175s (Horizon Air)
- 32 Bombardier Q400s (Horizon Air)
In an effort to reduce operating expenses, Alaska will be removing the Airbus A320 and Airbus A321neo planes from its fleet, as well as the Bombardier Q400 aircraft, by the end of 2023.
What Will Replace These Planes?
The 35 Airbus A320 and 10 Airbus A321neo aircraft will be replaced by 15 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 54 Boeing 737 MAX 9s, and 60 Boeing 737 MAX 10s due to come in over the next few years.
Typically Alaska Airbus A320s and A321s have flown longer routes, such as those from Seattle to New York, though they certainly cover their fair share of shorter routes as well.
For Horizon Air, the 32 retiring Bombardier Q400s will be replaced by 19 Embraer E175s. Aviation Geeks will recognize the Q400 by its iconic propellers, and Alaska is currently the only U.S.-based major airline to operate the planes. While the retirement of these aircraft will certainly disappoint those looking to grab a ride on these unique planes, not all is bad news. Because the E175 plane will replace the Q400, there’ll be more capacity on legacy Q400 routes as well as the addition of a first class cabin.
This means, come the end of 2023, that all Alaska Airlines routes will feature a first class cabin. While traditionally the Q400 would only operate shorter routes, it’s nice to be able to fly in first class for the entirety of a trip instead of just 1 or 2 legs.
Hot Tip: Learn how to upgrade to first class on Alaska Airlines in our in-depth guide!
Why These Changes?
The Airbus aircraft in Alaska’s fleet were acquired during the merger with Virgin America. Having different types of aircraft require more maintenance abilities. Because Boeing and Airbus are 2 different manufacturers, you need to have entirely separate processes in place to service both planes.
Now that Alaska will be removing these fleet types, it hopes to simplify maintenance capabilities and ultimately save significantly on costs.
Alaska Airlines will be moving toward a more simplified fleet with the retirement of its A320, A321, and Q400 series aircraft. While each of these plans has been a workhorse in the Alaska fleet, the move toward a single manufacturer of planes, both for mainline and regional planes, will save significantly on costs and create a more streamlined customer experience.
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