Last week at the ISTAT Americas conference in Phoenix, Mark Eliasen, the vice president - Finance and treasurer for Alaska Airlines, made an observation: “Of the five airlines in the world that are investment grade, four of them are single-fleet operators. Is that a coincidence? Or is that the way that operating a single fleet works? Simplicity is beautiful.”

He’s right as usual - Simplicity IS beautiful, when you pick the right product. And the right product in this case is the Boeing 737. Alaska, Ryanair, Southwest and WestJet all fly the 737 exclusively, and all achieved investment-grade status. (WestJet Encore, a wholly owned subsidiary of WestJet, operates regionally with Bombardier Q400s.)

That means the leading bond-rating agencies recognize their financial strength and stability, which is a testament to their well-run operations, their strong management and their great products.

I like to say that the Next-Generation 737 gives these airlines one airplane in three different sizes. It allows them to take advantage of the benefits of having a single pilot pool, a single flight deck, the same engine — and still have the flexibility to match the right-sized airplane with the right range on the right routes. And in every size, it’s the most reliable, most efficient airplane in its class.

I’ll also note that all of these airlines who depend on the Next-Generation 737 for consistent performance and profitability have ordered the 737 MAX for their future fleets. For that, we say thank you.


Alaska Airlines has a fleet of 137 737s flying today, plus 42 Next-Generation 737-900ERs and 37 737 MAX airplanes on order.


Ryanair has a fleet of over 300 Next Generation 737-800s flying today, plus another 174 on order. And it’s the launch customer for the 737 MAX 200, with an order for 100 airplanes.


Southwest Airlines has the world’s largest fleet of 737s, with more than 600 in service. It has 70 Next-Generation 737s on order and is the launch customer for both the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 7, with orders for 170 MAX 8s and 30 MAX 7s.


WestJet operates a fleet of 108 Boeing Next-Generation 737s, with 16 more on order. They have also ordered 65 737 MAXs.

Comments (4)

Andrew Boydston (Boise, ID USA):

Randy, you have touched on the essence of industry since Henry Ford. Its the process of building a product that all hands contribute to its successful conclusions for its ultimate customer, the end user. It doesn't make sense flying two different makes of airplanes for the same purpose. Its simply inefficient by nature when using the same common workforce while using different equipment. SWA used a successful Boeing equipped business model. Ryanair has followed in its footsteps. Doubly equipped airlines with a Boeing or Airbus are hedging its insecurity by doing everything standard but never really achieve a distinctive excellence when it blurs the lines of excellence through its different equipment types. The work force is split with its talents. The process is muddled with duo operations and management. Boeing/only airlines have honed in on the smoothest of operations for its passengers. The customer's identify the product with the airline. Passengers see dually operated airlines lacking a vision or a committed for its equipment.

Nick Johnson (Orcas, WA):

Long range, international operators could learn from this example. The 787 would make an ideal single type international fleet because of its unmatched technology in 3 sizes. As the above 737 operators have proved, having larger aircraft isn't necessarily an advantage.

Dr Dorothy (MA USA):

Congratulations to Boeing and Alaska Airlines,Ryanair,Southwest Airlines, WestJet as flying among USA, UK, Europe, Canada, Russia, Australia,NZ and even flying to Alaska to see the gorgeous Aurora, b!

Best regards,
Dr Dorothy

Norman Garza (Long Beach, CA):

I think Southwest can use more than 30 737 MAX 7 aircraft as it replaces older 737-700 airframes. I hope to see Alaska Airlines remain independent as an airline.

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