In 2023, MotoArt and Alaska Airlines collaborated to create the first Alaska Airlines branded PlaneTags, made from N522VA, an Airbus A319. Read more about this plane’s history, then order your own Alaska Airlines A319 PlaneTags .
Alaska Airlines, one of the major airlines in the United States, boasts a rich history that dates back to the early 1930s. The carrier's origins can be traced back to 1932 when Linious "Mac" McGee established McGee Airways in Anchorage, Alaska. Operating at first with just a single three-seater Stinson aircraft, the company primarily focused on offering flights for passengers and cargo transportation throughout the Alaskan region, starting with unscheduled service between Anchorage and Bristol Bay.
Photo by Roy S Dickson, Sr
In 1934, McGee sold his airline to Star Air Service. In 1937, Star Air Service bought Alaska Interior Airlines, reincorporating the business as Star Air Lines. In 1941, the airline was purchased by Raymond Marshall, who then purchased three other Alaskan airlines. After changing the name to Alaska Star Airlines in 1942, it was finally and permanently changed to Alaska Airlines on May 2, 1944, reflecting the company's ambition to establish itself in the competitive aviation market and extend its reach beyond the Alaskan boundaries.
The post-World War II period witnessed a surge in the demand for air travel, prompting Alaska Airlines to expand its fleet and services, connecting various cities within the United States. By the 1960s, the airline had evolved into a significant player in the national aviation sector, facilitating smoother travel experiences for a growing number of passengers. Alaska Airlines continued to enhance its operations, introducing modern aircraft, refining its customer service, and expanding its route network. Over the decades, the airline has solidified its reputation for providing excellent service, ensuring passenger safety, and fostering strong community ties in the regions it serves.
Today, Alaska Airlines remains a prominent name in the aviation industry, known for its commitment to innovation, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
Alaska Airlines has a diverse and dynamic fleet history that has evolved in response to the changing demands of the aviation industry. In its early years, the airline operated small, single-engine aircraft, such as the three-seater Stinson Reliant, to serve the Alaskan region's remote and challenging terrain. As the airline expanded its operations and ventured into transcontinental flights, it incorporated larger propeller-driven planes like the Douglas DC-3, which played a crucial role in enhancing its capacity and reach across the United States.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Alaska Airlines embraced the era of jet travel, integrating modern and efficient jetliners into its fleet. The Boeing 727, known for its reliability and range, became a staple in the airline's fleet, enabling it to provide faster and more comfortable journeys for passengers traveling to various destinations. The Boeing 727's versatility and robust performance capabilities further facilitated Alaska Airlines' expansion into new markets, solidifying its position as a key player in the U.S. aviation landscape.
As air travel technology continued to advance, Alaska Airlines modernized its fleet with more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft. The airline later incorporated the Boeing 737, a workhorse of the industry known for its reliability, cost-effectiveness, and passenger comfort. In its pursuit of operational excellence, Alaska Airlines also adopted the Airbus A320 family, including the A319 and A320, to cater to its growing domestic and international routes. The strategic incorporation of these modern and versatile aircraft has enabled Alaska Airlines to continue providing passengers with a seamless and enjoyable travel experience while also upholding its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
In September 2023, Alaska retired the last of its ten A321neo planes and reached an agreement to sell them to American Airlines. As of October 2023, Alaska Airlines has an all Boeing 737 fleet, with the following aircraft according to airfleets.net .
As of 2023, Alaska Air Group serves more than 115 destinations with nearly 1,200 daily flights in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. This includes routes flown by Horizon Air and SkyWest, which provide feed traffic to Alaska Airlines under capacity purchase agreements.
On October 20, 2023, Alaska Airlines announced new seasonal non stop service added from Anchorage to New York City and San Diego . Beginning next June, daily flights to New York’s JFK airport will be the only nonstop service between JFK and Anchorage, offering the longest flight in the Alaska Air Group network. The 3,386 mile route will be served by the airline’s new 737-8 aircraft, which has the longest range of any of their current planes. These new routes will make 14 nonstop destinations to and from Anchorage in the summer to the lower 48 states and Hawaii.
The Airbus A319, a member of the Airbus A320 family, is a narrow-body, twin-engine jetliner known for its versatility and efficiency. Designed for short to medium-haul flights, the A319 is often deployed on routes with high demand and moderate passenger traffic. Its compact size and excellent fuel economy make it an ideal choice for both regional and international operations, allowing airlines to efficiently serve destinations with varying demand levels.
The Airbus A319 features a sleek and aerodynamic design, characterized by its streamlined fuselage, swept wings, and modern, curved wingtips. Its spacious cabin is typically configured to accommodate anywhere from 124 to 156 passengers, depending on the airline's specific layout. The aircraft offers a comfortable travel experience, equipped with modern amenities and ergonomic seating arrangements to ensure passenger comfort during the flight.
The A319 is equipped with advanced avionics and navigation systems, contributing to its reputation for safety and reliability. Its efficient engines and aerodynamic design enable it to achieve impressive fuel efficiency, making it a popular choice for airlines aiming to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. Since its introduction in the mid-1990s, the A319 has garnered considerable popularity in the aviation industry, with hundreds of units manufactured to cater to the diverse needs of airlines worldwide. Its successful track record and widespread adoption have solidified its position as a key player in the market for narrow-body aircraft.
N522VA, an Airbus A319-112, took its first flight June 16, 2006. Shortly after, on June 29, 2006, it was delivered to Virgin America. It was leased to Skybus Airlines in February 2007. Skybus operated from May 2007 to April 2008, with a fleet of thirteen Airbus A319 aircraft, including N522VA.
Virgin America Airbus A319-112 N522VA (cn 2811) "the 1-year-old virgin" flickr photo by TDelCoro shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
After Skybus ceased operations, N522VA was returned to Virgin America in July 2008 and nicknamed “the 1-year-old virgin”. Virgin America was a low-cost but high service quality airline that operated between 2007 and 2018, primarily operating from its hubs at SFO and LAX and offering flights to major metropolitan areas on the east coast. Virgin America’s all Airbus fleet included, at its peak, ten A319, 53 A320, and four A321s.
Alaska Airlines and Virgin America merged operations in 2018, bringing N522VA back into the Alaska fleet until its eventual retirement in March 2020. It landed at Marana Pinal Airpark in October 2021.
MotoArt owner Dave Hall discussed how the team ended up with N522VA, their first A319 PlaneTags. “Alaska Airlines first approached us earlier this year about doing a collaboration together on PlaneTags,” said Hall. “Even though Alaska has turned into an all Boeing fleet, the easiest accessible retired aircraft was the A319, which were originally Virgin Atlantic aircraft that they acquired in the merger.”
The process for manufacturing the Alaska Airlines A319 PlaneTags was a long and difficult one, according to Dave Hall. "These photos are important because the colors were not available to us initially," says Hall. " The MotoArt crew spent weeks uncovering the original livery that had been hidden under the cover-up paint. None of these vibrant colors would have been possible without the team working hard to find it without screwing up the original paint."
Our Alaska Airlines A319 PlaneTags will be released on Thursday, October 26th at 12pm PDT. They are numbered in a series of 3000 and will be available in the following colors:
In addition to Alaska Airlines, MotoArt has created branded commercial PlaneTags from many iconic airlines, which include: