Alaska Airlines may keep leased Airbus fleet – Leeham News and Analysis

Oct. 9, 2020, (c) Airfinance Journal: Alaska Airlines is believed to be working on a solution regarding its narrowbody fleet composition after initial talks failed with lessors regarding an early phase-out of Airbus A320-family aircraft.The US carrier approached leasing companies in the summer with a large request for proposals (RFP) to replace its entire leased current-generation A320-family fleet with Boeing 737-800, -900ER, Max 8 and Max 9 models over the next few years.

Alaska Airlines may keep a mixed fleet of Airbus A320s and 737s at least through 2025. Lessors are balking at early returns. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

According to Airfinance Journal‘s Fleet Tracker, Alaska has 10 A319s with leases expiring between 2021 and 2023. Another 41 A320s have leases expiring between 2020 and 2025.

But the objective of the RFP is to accelerate the exit of the carrier’s 51 A320-family aircraft ahead of lease expirations as well as sell 10 owned A320s that were manufactured in 2015 and 2016.

But leasing sources talking to Airfinance Journal say the approach was not “well received”.

“They may keep those aircraft to scheduled redelivery dates,” says one lessor.

Another lessor confirms plans are off the table.

He comments: “They may have realised the difficulty in finding feedstock, but also the costs associated with the rents and return conditions on their existing Airbus fleet. This could prove a very expensive exercise.”

The leasing source adds that 737NG are easier to remarket than A320s at the moment because of cargo appetite for the former.

Alaska Air told Airfinance Journal: “As we resize our fleet to reflect the reduced demand environment, we will prioritise efficiency to determine which aircraft to operate. It’s too soon to call whether that means single-fleet or dual-fleet for the long run.”

Earlier this week the carrier said it expect to incur impairment charges of between $115 million and $125 million as a result of the accelerated retirement of 10 A320s[1].

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