Southwest Airlines: Launch Carrier for 737 MAX 7

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Southwest Airlines, the largest domestic carrier in the U.S. and the only consistently profitable airline, is in the news this week. Boeing and Southwest Airlines are launching the 737 MAX 7, the third sibling of the 737 MAX family.

Southwest Airlines, the launch customer for the 737 MAX program, is now the first customer for the 737 MAX 7. Delivery is expected to begin in 2019. In reality, what Southwest did was convert 30 existing orders for Next Generation 737’s into orders for the 737 MAX 7.

Why? Fuel efficiency is the name of the game. The 737, with seemingly cast-iron reliability and massive hearts are the most popular aircraft in the world. And they keep getting upgraded like the wet-over-wet of an oil-painting artist.

Boeing says “with the MAX 7 conversions and exercised options for 737-800s, Southwest’s unfilled orders consist of 180 737 MAX airplanes and 137 Next-Generation 737s.”

They also say “the 737 MAX now has orders for 1,315 airplanes.”

At the same time, the Associated Press reports Southwest, in a move to reduce spending by $500 million over the next five years, is buying 10 used 737s from Canadian carrier WestJet.

Southwest officials say these older 737’s “should abide Southwest over until Boeing begins a new, more fuel-efficient 737 MAX late in this decade.” In other words, they’re going with the old until they recalibrate their world.

The single-aisle, 110-foot-long MAX 7 will extend the range of the 737-700 by 400 nautical miles (460 miles).

Southwest is an anomaly in the airline industry. For 40 consecutive years turning in a profit has been as inevitable as the weather. Their winning strategy has focused on underutilized routes near major metropolitan areas (think suburbs such as Burbank).

Analysts also applaud Southwest for their keep-it-simple approach and easy-to-understand pricing. But most of all they are big fans of uncompromising CEO Gary Kelly, who was handpicked by Herb Kelleher, the founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines.

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • starflyer at 1:46am May 18, 2013

    I hope the 737 MAX supports greater legroom/pitch. The 737s as currently configured by Southwest are too cramped and uncomfortable. The last thing I want from Southwest is the ability to travel 400 miles further in the same cramped conditions they now give us.

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