MIAMI – On Thursday the Alaska Airlines Group, parent to Alaska Airlines (AS), reported a US$431m loss while management ponders a Boeing 737 MAX order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planning on unlocking middle seats in 2021, AS reports operating more flights and carrying more passengers with each successive month while still sustaining losses.

CEO Brad Tilden however, in stating that AS is “better positioned than any other airline to survive this storm” refers to the US$3.7bn the airline has on hand along with US$1.8bn available from unused yet agreed to loans with the United States (U.S.) government.

Having discussed the 737 MAX orders with Boeing earlier in October, AS has pending orders for 32 Boeing 737 MAX-9s with options for 37 more with the aircraft potentially facing recertification soon in the US.

Boeing 737 MAX Photo: Boeing

An All Boeing Fleet, An Efficient Fleet

With AS having merged with Virgin America (VX) in 2018 the airline thus inherited 71 aircraft from the Airbus A320 family with Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Shane Tackett describing AS management as “very anxious to be able to get out of some of these pretty onerous leases on the A320s”.

“We love all of our airplanes. But the A319s and A320s are uneconomic relative to others” said AS Senior Vice President of fleet Nat Pieper with CEO Tilden further hinting that the airline could reap a good return on an investment in the 737 MAX aircraft in terms of fuel-efficiency.

Fuel efficiency, also leading to financial savings is gaining ever more importance as AS burned through US$1bn since the onset of the pandemic, partially offset by US$750m from the governmental Payroll Support Program while AS still laid off 300 employees.

With the airline set to join the oneworld alliance and passenger numbers on the rise, AS will hopefully move beyond current financial difficulties and into an era of prosperity as the COVID-19 pandemic eventually recedes.

Featured image: Alaska Airlines. Photo: Brandon Farris