Airline's Latest 737-800 Christened 'Spirit Of Seattle'
Good riddance to old Mad-Dogs. On Thursday, Alaska Airlines
completed its transition to an all-Boeing 737 aircraft fleet with
the retirement of its last MD-80 series airplane, part of a
ramped-up plan to increase the airline's
operational efficiency and improve fuel conservation.
"With the last of our MD-80s retiring today and scheduled
deliveries of additional new Boeing 737-800s this year, Alaska
Airlines now operates one of the youngest, most fuel-efficient and
technologically advanced fleets in the industry," said Bill Ayer,
Alaska's chairman and chief executive officer. "Our all-Boeing
fleet will make a major difference in customer comfort, fleet
reliability and operating costs, at a time when it matters
Alaska notes the 737-800 burns 850 gallons of fuel per hour,
versus 1,100 gallons per hour by the MD-80. A common fleet type
also will result in lower costs for maintenance, training and
flight crew scheduling.
As the airline's last MD-80 circled Washington state's Mount
Rainer in a symbolic final flight, it was joined in the sky by a
newly-delivered Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 airplane, dubbed the
"Spirit of Seattle" in tribute to the airline's now all-Boeing
fleet and unique hometown partnership with the airplane
manufacturer. The airliner sports a unique combination of Boeing's
fleet-standard colors, with the distinctive Alaska Airlines
logo on its tail.
"Your newest Next-Generation 737, with its commemorative livery,
is symbolic of our great working together relationship," said Mark
Jenkins, Boeing 737 vice president and general manager. "Boeing is
committed to Alaska Airlines' success, and we're proud to be your
Alaska's 737s are equipped with Required Navigation Performance
precision approach technology and Head-up Guidance Systems, which
allow takeoffs and landings in low-visibility conditions. The
airline's 737s also are equipped with Enhanced Ground Proximity
Warning System, which alerts pilots of ground obstacles.
The airline has firm commitments for an additional eight Boeing
737-800s through 2008, which will bring its fleet to 116 Boeing 737
aircraft. That compares to 26 MD-80s and 110 total aircraft at the
onset of the airline's fleet transition in 2006.
Alaska Airlines acquired its first MD-80 aircraft, manufactured
by Long Beach, CA-based McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft, in 1985, and
once operated 44 of the jets. The MD-80, with its larger fuel tanks
for extended range, was the cornerstone of the airline's expansion
up and down the West Coast, as well as into Mexico and the Russian
Far East during the 1980s and '90s.