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WASHINGTON D.C. Alaska Airlines is planning to sell 10 Airbus A320 jets and gradually return 39 leased Airbus aircraft until 2023.

Alaska sold 10 Airbus jets inherited from its $2.6 billion takeover of Virgin America in 2016 — to a California leasing company in November because they were the "least efficient aircraft" in its roster, Alaska Senior Vice President of Fleet, Finance, and Alliances Nat Pieper told the Business Journal.

Under the same deal, Alaska will lease 13 far more fuel-efficient Boeing 737 Max 9 jets from the same lessor, Air Lease of Los Angeles, as it hands over its A319s.

"I wish I had a 100 of those deals because they are the ones that turn out well," Pieper said, calling the outcome for Alaska good because it gives the airline "a way out of airplanes we don't want and brings us aircraft that we do (want)" and economics that makes sense.

"The other (10) A319s we have are leased. They have been retired and won't fly for Alaska again. Those will be returned to their lessors. We have two 320s in a similar situation. One returns this month, another in Q1 of next year," said Pieper, hired in September 2019.

The same will happen to another 39 A320 jets Alaska operates under other leases between now and 2023, Pieper added, saying the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated those decisions because its A319s and A320s "are the least efficient aircraft we have."
"They're too small for where we're flying. As we put the Virgin America and Alaska networks together, that became pretty obvious," Pieper said.
Alaska isn't completely dropping Airbus for the 737 Max. It leases 10 bigger Airbus A321neo (new engine option) jets that are its biggest and great performers on transcontinental routes.

Alaska A321neos, which have 185-190 seats, are leased for five to seven years and are owned by four or five different aircraft lessors, Pieper said, noting they serve markets smaller Boeing 737s cannot.
"As we work forward with the 'Great Fleet Question (Boeing vs Airbus),' as our employees like to call it, we're working with Boeing and Airbus to see what the right answer is," Pieper said.#

(Via Business Journal)

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