Alaska Airlines complete replacement of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 fleet to save US$115 Mn. + a year on fuel - and some fishy goings on in Alaska
Alaska Airlines decided in 2006 to speed up the retirement of its 26 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplanes (15 owned 11 leased) to save $115 million per year in lower fuel, maintenance, training and crew scheduling costs with the all-Boeing 737 fleet. This would hit the balance sheet with costs of US$140-US$190 but increased fuel costs will make the payback savings quicker.
Alaska planned on taking delivery of 39 737-800 planes by 2008 and had already signed firm commitments for 13 airplanes, options for 24 more and purchase rights for an additional 27 planes in 2009 and beyond.
In a special ceremony next week, Alaska said its final MD-80 airplane, a 13-year-old model, will participate in a special ceremony with airline retirees, previous plane captains and invited guests, who will fly a special flight around Mount Rainier.
Simultaneously they take delivery of the latest new Boeing 737-800 called “Spirit of Seattle.”
On January 31st 2000, Alaska Airlines Flight 261 departed Puerto Vallarta , Mexico for a flight to San Francisco and Seattle. En route to San Francisco a problem arose with the stabilizer trim. The crew attempted to diagnose or correct the problem the out-of-trim condition became worse, causing a tendency for the plane to pitch nose-down. When preparing the plane for landing, control was lost and the MD-83 was seen 'tumbling, spinning, nose down, continuous roll, corkscrewing and inverted'. The aircraft crashed off Point Mugu in 650 feet deep water and all 88 crew and passengers were lost.
The cause was traced to a "loss of airplane pitch control resulting from the in-flight failure of the horizontal stabilizer trim system jackscrew assembly’s acme nut threads. Contributing to the accident were Alaska Airlines’ extended lubrication interval and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of that extension.
Readers with long memories might remember a post Thursday, October 06, 2005 Something fishy in the pork barrel... when Alaska Air had Mark Boyle 1 year to plan and 30 painters (including three Hollywood set-design specialists), 24 days to paint Alaskan Air 120-foot-long Boeing 737 ?
Well, federally funded Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board (US$29 million in 2 years of taxpayers money) added US$225,000 to the normal US$75,000 repaint budget. The rest of the US$500,000 budget goes on bookmarks that will be passed out to passengers as part of an educational campaign about the state of Alaska's fishing industry. Of course don't forget that senator Ted Stevens son, state Sen. Ben Stevens, is chairman of the agency’s board of directors…. (go here at the Anchorage Daily News for the court cases, secret fishy deals with Ben, Adak fisheries and Aleut fishing profits etc., etc., .. but that's another juicy fishy story)
Few will forget the intemperate remarks of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2004 about earmarks on a bill which paid for the above fishy plane. "Is there something wrong with these fish that warrants such an expensive program to convince us to eat them?" He was not then a Presidential wannabe hoping to reap the rewards of Ted Stevens' Republican supporters.
Ted Stevens , readers will recall was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., July 28th 2008 on seven counts of filing false financial disclosures, each a felony charge that carries a penalty of five years in prison and an unspecified fine.
As a result of a 4 year federal investigation into public corruption in the state of Alaska , three state legislators, a high-level official in Gov. Frank Murkowski's administration, two businessmen and a lobbyist have been convicted, and two legislators are awaiting trial.
"I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that." said Ted.
4 days ago he was refused leave to have the trial moved from Washington to Alaska - new filings involve some fascinating new material including ,"an intercepted telephone call in (the Government began tapping his phones in March 2006) which Stevens discusses how his son Ben, then the state Senate President, planned to push a bill favored by the oil industry as a prelude to gas development."