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updated: 10/11/2012 8:54 AM

Alaska Airlines inks deal for 50 new Boeing 737s

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Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Alaska Airlines is buying 50 of Boeing Co.'s new 737s in a deal worth $5 billion at sticker prices.

Alaska, operated by Seattle's Alaska Air Group Inc., won't pay full price. Major airline customers commonly get discounts. The order is the largest-ever for Alaska.

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The order includes 37 of Boeing's redesigned 737, which it calls the Max. It's a new version of the classic plane with a redesigned engine aimed at improving fuel efficiency.

Alaska operates a fleet of all 737s. It has 120 of them in operation and 25 that are set to be delivered over the next several years. The planes contained in Thursday's order are expected to be given to Alaska between 2015 and 2022.

Of the 75 planes Alaska currently has on order, two-thirds will replace older planes in the airline's fleet. All of the new planes will have overhead bins with more storage and headroom and new seats that allow for more legroom.

Boeing Co., which is based in Chicago, currently has orders for 858 of the 737 Max from major airlines in the U.S. and abroad. The Max is Boeing's response to rival Airbus, which plans to build a more fuel-efficient version of its popular plane, the A320 neo.

Southwest Airlines Co. will be the first recipient of Boeing's new plane.

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