Alaska Airlines jetliners will soon fly more efficiently thanks to a new performance-enhancing winglet the carrier is installing on its Boeing Next Generation 737s, which will reduce fuel consumption by 58,000 gallons a year per aircraft. The split winglet will save the airline $20 million and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 57,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking about 11,900 passenger vehicles off the road each year.*
“Reducing fuel consumption has been a top priority at Alaska Airlines for years,” said Mark Eliasen, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of finance and treasurer. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our employees, we’ve cut our carbon emissions by 30 percent per passenger mile since 2004. Investing in split winglets will further reduce our fuel use and continue our efforts to be the industry leader in environmental stewardship.”
Among other efforts to lower fuel consumption, Alaska migrated to a fleet of all-Boeing 737s, the most efficient aircraft in its class, installed lighter inflight food and beverage carts, and instituted procedures such as taxiing on one engine instead of two.
The International Council on Clean Transportation , a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., ranked Alaska No. 1 in fuel efficiency among all 15 major U.S. airlines in a report it released in September.
Winglets save fuel by reducing drag, which allows aircraft to fly at cruise speed with less engine power. Alaska Airlines will recoup the cost of the winglets through fuel savings in about two years.
Designed by Seattle-based Aviation Partners Boeing, the first winglet will be installed early next year and the project will be completed by 2017. Alaska plans to install the winglets on 111 aircraft, including most of its 737-800s, -900s and all of its -900ERs. Installation will be scheduled on each aircraft during routine maintenance inspections.