Image source: Alaska Airlines
(Reuters) – Alaska Air Group Inc said on Monday it would lease 13 new Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes from aircraft lessor Air Lease Corp, handing its traditional jet supplier a boost less than a week after Boeing won U.S. approval to fly the MAX again.
Alaska also disclosed plans to sell 10 Airbus A320s to Air Lease, reducing its reliance on European jets inherited from a takeover of Virgin America and moving back towards being a carrier that labeled its jets "Proudly All Boeing."
The deal is seen as Boeing’s opening shot together with an influential lessor in a campaign to rehabilitate the 737 MAX, which was grounded for 20 months following two fatal accidents.
The U.S. planemaker is trying to secure eye-catching deals with other major carriers to sell the 737 MAX at heavily discounted prices to help rebuild what was once its fastest-selling product, industry sources said.
Boeing has identified Alaska Air as one of the candidates to buy the 737 MAX jet along with Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Ryanair, the sources said.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Sunday, Delta Air Lines’ Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian hinted at the possibility of purchasing 737 MAX planes. Delta currently does not have the aircraft in its fleet.
Alaska Air, which is based in Boeing’s main commercial factory city of Seattle, said it expects deliveries of the 13 737 MAX jets to start from the fourth quarter of 2021 and continue through 2022.
The company’s 13 leased 737 MAX aircraft will be in addition to the 32 737 MAX jets it currently has on order with Boeing, Alaska Air said, adding that it expects to be flying five 737 MAX planes by summer of 2021.
Reuters in October reported that Boeing was in discussions to sell 737 MAX jets to Alaska Air.
Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel.