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July 22, 2024

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The Boeing 737 MAX 9 plays a major role in Alaska’s fleet update. The growth in the MAX 9 fleet is changing the airline’s profile, as the following chart illustrates.

FR24 AirInsight

The chart shows that Alaska has the highest percentage of single-aisle MoM aircraft in service among US airlines.  This is a meaningful change.  Alaska had 65 MAX 9 and 91 -900NGs in service as of the end of 2023.  Over 67% of its fleet qualifies as MoM. The loss of the A321s didn’t leave a dent.

To further demonstrate the impact, through the 3Q23, in terms of percentage of flights, Alaska’s 737-900 and MAX 9 fleet performed 61% of flights. This fleet generated ~71% of the airline’s ASMS by 3Q23.

There are some other notable metrics from the evolution of the fleet. First, notice how the more capable aircraft have helped to push stage lengths.  At the same time, the MAX 9 offers excellent fuel efficiency, which helps improve the airline’s fuel burn.

US DoT T2 AirInsight

Then, look at this chart, listing load factors and average seating per flight. How’s that for a V-recovery in load factor post-pandemic? Alaska’s larger aircraft drive the steady growth in average seat count.

US DoT T2 AirInsight

The MAX 9 plays a major role for Alaska Airlines, upsizing and offering more capability with better fuel efficiency. The next chart underscores this. The MAX 9 is a big success story at Alaska Airlines.

US DoT T2 AirInsight

The MAX 9 through 3Q23 operated 35% of flights and generated 41% of its ASMs. While only representing 28% of the fleet.

Over the weekend, we have covered the recent MAX 9 event at the airline twice (1, 2). There are several sources to find more background on that story, and we recommend TAC.  We want to add a perspective on how impactful a MAX 9 grounding is for Alaska Airlines.

author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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