Alaska Airlines’ frustrations over Boeing are growing following recent interviews conducted by the airline’s CEO, Ben Minicucci.
More Loose Bolts Found
Many aircraft from the grounded Boeing 737-9 fleet have been identified to have loose bolts following further in-house inspections. These inspections are not part of the formal work to get the aircraft re-approved to enter service.
Further loose bolts being identified by Alaska Airlines on their parked aircraft came just days following the mandated grounding when the Federal Aviation Administration issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive.
Alaska Airlines wouldn’t be the only airline to report finding further loose bolts or hardware concerns, with United Airlines being the first to highlight such a thing; Alaska would follow hours later.
It remains unclear how many aircraft these loose bolts were identified. However, the CEO continued to state there were “many” aircraft.
Frustrations Turn To Anger
The interview with Tom Costello of NBC News highlighted further details that have transpired since and Alaska Airlines’ stance on several matters.
Following the door blowout, there were safety concerns, and to find the root cause of the incident, many believed it was a one-off. However, as time progressed and more was uncovered, those concerns turned to frustrations and now to anger.
In the case of Alaska Airlines, the CEO says that he is no longer disappointed nor frustrated but rather angry that this has happened to his airline, guests and employees.
The CEO is demanding that Boeing improve their quality programs in-house. Alaska Airlines has already said they’ll deploy a team to investigate practices at the manufacturer with a close inspection of all aircraft destined for them.
In the continued interview with NBC News, Minicucci says that while plans were in place for a purchase of the 737-10s, they’ll now do their due diligence in understanding what suits their long-term strategy best and what the fleet mix will look like.
However, like several other customers, including United Airlines, a lot rests on when the 737-10 can be certified. No timeline has been provided, and delays continue to be incurred.
Alaska Airlines Still Backs Boeing
While anger is present, Alaska Airlines remains a Boeing operator for its mainline fleet, which was previously a title many would carry with them to great applause. Still, now that is viewed quite dramatically differently.
Alaska Airlines’ shift back to all-Boeing aircraft came after it removed any Airbus-produced aircraft it acquired during a merger with Virgin America. Notably, the last departures were brand new A321neos, which many passengers enjoyed and were sad to see go.
However, a move to all-Boeing jets could be subject to change once more. If a deal with Hawaiian Airlines goes through, the Group will once more acquire Airbus-produced aircraft that it worked so hard to get rid of.