It seems Southwest Airlines has confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX platform, with the airline signing for 100 firm orders of the Boeing 737 MAX, with options for 155 more.
The deal comes after a multi-year fleet evaluation by Southwest and means that Boeing and its suppliers could build more than 600 new 737 MAX jets for the airline through 2031.
The airline has been exploring replacements for the Boeing 737-700, which fits its 140–150-seater requirement for some markets. In its place, the Boeing 737-7 will take its place as its preferred replacement and growth airplane.
The Boeing 737-7 will complement the 737-8 (which is currently in-service), which serves Southwest’s needs for a 175-seat model.
Both 737 MAX family members will reduce fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 14% compared to the airplanes they replace, helping to improve operating costs and environmental performance. Southwest said the solution allows it to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network.
The new purchase agreement takes Southwest’s order book to 200 737-7s and 180 737-8s, with more than 30 of which have already been delivered.
Southwest will also have 270 options for either of the two models, taking the carrier’s direct-buy commitment to more than 600 airplanes. The airline also plans additional 737 MAX jets through third-party lessors.
Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman and CEO said:
“Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success. Today’s commitment to the 737 MAX solidifies our continued appreciation for the aircraft and confirms our plans to offer the Boeing 737 series of aircraft to our Employees and Customers for years to come,”
“We are proud to continue our tradition of being the world’s largest operator of an all-Boeing fleet.”
Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s chief operating officer added:
“In addition to supporting our efforts to operate sustainably and efficiently, the 737 MAX offers Employees and Customers travel comforts such as a quieter cabin, larger overhead bin spaces, seating with adjustable headrests, and more galley space for onboard service,”
Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said:
“Southwest Airlines has long been a leader and bellwether for the airline industry and this order is a big vote of confidence for commercial air travel. As vaccine distribution continues to pick-up, people are returning to the skies and fueling hopes for a full recovery and renewed growth across our industry,”
“We are deeply honored by Southwest’s continuing trust in Boeing and the 737. Their fleet decision today brings more stability for our biggest commercial program and will ensure that our entire 737 family will be building new airplanes for Southwest for years to come.”
No room for the A220, but growth for the 737-7
Southwest Airlines has been an operator of the Boeing 737 family for nearly 50 years – with a direct relationship that can push a programme in one way or another.
Whilst the 737-8 has been popular, the 737-7 has been less popular with customers, with only Southwest and Westjet biting at the bit for the type. Other customers are looking towards the Airbus A220 as a replacement.
For Boeing, it’s a vote of confidence it is 737 MAX platform, that a major customer is returning to them for additional aircraft.
For Airbus, it could be seen as a loss, with a possibility that Southwest could have looked at the A220 platform, as The Air Current deep-dived into.
However, with the announcement today, it seems that Southwest isn’t ready to split its fleet between two types for some time come, rather sticking with its chosen supplier.
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