Southwest Airlines has today placed a significant order for Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft. The US low-cost airline has ordered 100 737 MAX jets, alongside options for 155 more. The deal increases Southwest’s MAX commitment to more than 600 aircraft, split between the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 7 variants.
Southwest retains commitment to an all-Boeing fleet
Southwest Airlines has reaffirmed its commitment to Boeing and the beleaguered 737 MAX today, placing the largest order since the type’s ungrounding at the end of 2020. The airline has made a firm order for 100 airplanes, in addition to placing options for 155 additional jets.
Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman and CEO commented,
“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.”
Southwest has been mulling what to replace its aging 737-700s with, and had been rumored to be considering the Airbus A220 as a fit for the 140-150 seat niche. However, today’s deal confirms that Southwest remains committed to Boeing, and that this smaller aircraft need will be met by the 737 MAX 7.
No Airbus for Southwest
While the order of the 737 MAX will come as a blow to Airbus, likely hopeful to add another US airline to its A220 operator list, for Boeing, it’s a sign of some much-needed confidence in the MAX program. The airline has reportedly undertaken a multi-year review of its fleet, which has led to today’s significant order.
The airline already has commitments in place with Boeing for a number of MAX jets. If it goes ahead with the options contained in today’s deal, Boeing will end up building more than 600 737 MAX for Southwest Airlines.
In total, Southwest’s order book stands now at 200 737 MAX 7s and 180 737 MAX 8s. More than 30 of these have already been delivered to the airline. In addition to this, the airline now has a total of 270 options for either of the two models. Southwest is reportedly also planning additional MAX capacity through deals with third-party lessors.
Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, commented on today’s orders saying,
“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.”
While there was a lot of noise about a possible A220 order from Southwest, many believed it was nothing more than hot air – perhaps a bargaining chip for the airline to secure a world-beating deal on its new 737s. Today, that sentiment appears to have been correct as Southwest will remain an all Boeing-737 operator for many years to come.