Alaska Air Group, the owner and operator of Alaska Airlines and regional airline Horizon Air, reported 2010 net income of $251.1 million, more than double the $121.6 million earned in 2009. This was the highest single-year profit ever for Alaska. Alaska also announced it will expand its current fleet with firm orders for 13 Boeing 737-900ERs and two 737-800s valued at $1.3 billion.
Alaska Chairman Bill Ayer called 2010 "a record year in nearly every regard."
Alaska Airlines, along with other air carriers in the United States, are increasing fares and increasing capacity on routes with the greatest gains. Thirteen of the fifteen of the jets that Alaska ordered are 737-900ER narrow-body that can carry up to 27 more passengers and fly longer distances than other 737s presently flown by Alaska. Alaska Airlines projected a expanded capacity of 8 percent to 9 percent this year.
There are a lot of places we could put that airplane in our network, especially as our load factors have increased over the years, Mr. Ayer said in a recent interview. We have some seasonal differences, strong summer traffic to Alaska and strong winter traffic to Mexico. The airplanes will probably be shifted around the system as we see opportunities.
Alaska now has about 100 flights to Hawaii from the western U.S. each week, accounting for about 15 percent of its network, Chief Financial Officer Brandon Pedersen said.
The 737-900ER twin-engine jets can carry as many as 215 passengers and fly between most cities in the U.S. and parts of Latin America. The new planes, which include two Boeing 737-800s, will be delivered starting next year.