Alaska Airlines retires its last Airbus aircraft, an A321neo

Alaska Airlines has retired its last Airbus A321neo
Markus Mainka /

Alaska Airlines has retired its last Airbus A321neo aircraft, as the operator returns to being an all-Boeing airline.

The aircraft, registered as N921VA, left Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on flight AS1126 at 8:56 pm local time (UTC -7) on September 30, 2023. Another Alaska Airlines A321neo, registered as N922VA, had its last flight on the same day.

That single-aisle jet departed LAX and arrived at Oakland International Airport (OAK) at 3:50 pm local time (UTC -7).

The retirement of the pair marked the last exit of the remnants of the Alaska Airlines and Virgin America merger, which took place in 2017. Then, as the two airlines merged, Alaska Airlines incorporated the latter’s fleet and backlog, which included six undelivered Airbus A321neos. At the time, Airbus had already delivered four aircraft of the type.

In addition to the A321neos, Alaska Airlines also began operating 10 Airbus A319ceo and 52 Airbus A320ceo aircraft. The airline retired its last A320 in January 2023.

READ MORE: Alaska Airlines retires its final Airbus A320

Alaska Airlines retired the 10 A321neos during Q3 2023. According to the Q2 2023 financial results filed to United States (US) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it had planned to remove the aircraft from its fleet “by the end of the third quarter of 2023”.

“Management plans to exit the leases by purchasing the aircraft, and subsequently sell them to a third party. During the quarter, Alaska reached agreements with two lessors to exit six of the ten A321neo operating leases and purchase the aircraft,” the filing also read.

The airline planned to finalize all of the A321neo-related financial transactions by the end of 2023. data shows that all 10 former Alaska Airlines A321neos were powered by the CFM International LEAP-1A engines. That could further drive up their value, considering the issues that older Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered A320neo family aircraft are encountering, namely the accelerated inspections with heavier inspection work due to a manufacturing quality issue discovered by the engine maker.

Alaska Airlines will replace the outgoing A321neos, as well as continuing to grow its fleet with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. In October 2022, the airline ordered 52 737 MAX aircraft with 105 options, with the order including three variants: the 737 MAX 8, MAX 9, and MAX 10.

According to the same Q2 2023 SEC filing, the airline’s total firm orders for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft family now stands at 94 aircraft, with a further 105 options.

The airline also detailed that as of August 2, 2023, it expected to receive a single 737 MAX 8 and 17 737 MAX 9s, with a further four and 16 in 2024, respectively.

During 2024, Alaska Airlines also anticipates receiving six 737 MAX 10, a type that is yet to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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