Alaska Airlines has decided to expand its fleet ahead of a projected return to pre-Covid levels of domestic travel by summer 2022 with the addition of 17 Embraer E175s to its network and a conversion of options on 13 Boeing 737 Max 9s, Alaska Air Group said Wednesday. Plans call for wholly owned subsidiary Horizon Air to fly nine of the E175s and for St. George, Utah-based affiliate SkyWest to fly eight.
The 17 Embraer jets will expand the group’s regional fleet to 111 airplanes—71 at Horizon and 40 with SkyWest. Under Alaska’s order contract, Horizon will receive five of the 76-seat jets next year and four in 2023, adding to an existing firm order for three. SkyWest expects to receive all eight of the E175s it ordered to enter service for Alaska Airlines in 2022.
“Regional aircraft play a huge role in Alaska's growing network,” said Alaska Air Group senior vice president of fleet, finance, and alliances Nat Pieper. “As our network expands, regional aircraft connect smaller communities to our larger hubs, providing critical feed to assist in the development of new markets.”
Alaska announced a restructured agreement with Boeing last December to acquire 68 of the 737-9 Maxes between 2021 and 2024, with options for another 52 deliveries between 2023 and 2026. The airline will accept the first 13 airplanes converted from options over two years: nine in 2023 and four in 2024.
“We are excited to exercise options for more 737-9s just months after committing to 68 firm deliveries,” added Pieper. “It's another indication that we're ready for growth.”