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Southwest Airlines Recommits to Boeing 737 MAX

March 29, 2021
The budget carrier placed a multi-billion-dollar order for 100 new aircraft and options for 155 more, adopting Boeing’s new 737 MAX-7 variant of the narrow-body jet.

Boeing secured an order from Southwest Airlines for 100 new 737 MAX jets, along with purchase options for 155 more aircraft, a deal confirmed by both the supplier and the customer. The announcement follows an extended “multi-year fleet evaluation” by the budget airline and longtime Boeing customer, which according to Boeing means that Southwest could be operating over 600 new 737 MAX jets through 2031.

With each new aircraft reportedly valued at $100 million, the placement could be worth up to $10 billion for Boeing, though such large-scale orders typically include a range of discounts.

With the new purchase agreement Southwest projects to have orders in place for 200 737 MAX-7s and 180 737 MAX-8s. It already has over 30 737 MAX-8s available from its earlier orders.

In addition, Boeing noted, Southwest will have 270 options for either of the two models, which puts its commitment to more than 600 737 MAX aircraft. Further 737 MAX aircraft could be in service for Southwest under lease from third parties, Boeing indicated.

Though lately troubled by two fatal crashes, the 737 MAX was well received upon its introduction: The fourth generation of Boeing’s medium-range, narrow-body 737 series drew an order of 250 aircraft from Southwest Airlines in 2011.

Southwest remains the largest customer (250 737 MAX-8 jets) for the aircraft, and it took its first delivery in August 2017.

The 737 MAX-8 was the first of three model variants introduced by Boeing, with a capacity of 170-200 passengers

Now, aiming to replace its 737-700 aircraft (of the previous model, 737 Next-Generation), and requiring an aircraft with 140- to 150-seat capacity, Southwest is committing to the planned 737 MAX-7 variant, with a capacity of 140-150 passengers. Boeing stated that the new jets will complement SWA’s 737-8 aircraft, with the same benefits of reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions offered by the earlier variants.

It added that retaining the 737 MAX fleet standard will preserve operating efficiencies for the carrier.

“Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success,” stated chairman and CEO Gary Kelly. “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.”

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