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The Old Plane Models Coming Out of Retirement to Replace the MAX

As the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX continues to grind on, airlines are looking at an unlikely source for help: older aircraft. According to analysts in the field, operators want to lease older aircraft like the Boeing 737-800, in order to compensate for the grounded or undelivered aircraft in their fleet.

Although Boeing is working to return the 737 MAX into service, airlines continue to suffer from the lack of aircraft. In America, Southwest Airlines may be suffering the most: the Dallas-based carrier has 25 aircraft unused in their fleet. However, there may be a temporary solution until the airframes go back online: leasing older aircraft to take their place.

CNBC reports airlines around the world are considering temporarily adding older aircraft to their fleet in order to add capacity. Among those most sought after are the Boeing 737-800 models, the precursor to the 737 MAX. According to some analysts, a two-year lease on a used 737-800 can cost over $300,000 – up 40% from their rates in March 2019.

Carriers are scrambling to add available aircraft because passenger demand is high. A report from the International Air Travel Association (IATA) suggests the demand for seats increased by 5% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. And Airlines for America reports passengers per capita have doubled from 1978 to 2018.

As previously reported, Boeing believes the issues which caused two fatal accidents were a result of software issues. The Illinois-based manufacturer hopes to get the 737 MAX back in the air by the closing three months of 2019. However, there are two concerns in place: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and their international counterparts may be slow to re-certify the aircraft for commercial flights, and passengers may not be ready to get back on the 737 MAX.

In result, airlines are looking for older aircraft to support their fleets until the re-certification day comes. But some of those airframes may be hard to find.

“Fly [Leasing] has already leased all of its Boeing 737s this year so we don’t have any available,” Ireland’s Fly Leasing chief executive Colm Barrington told CNBC in a statement. “Based on airline inquires, we are seeing strong demand for Boeing 737-800s in particular, which is likely to be reflected in higher re-lease rates for the type this year.”


[Featured Image: YouTube/ Aviation Videos]

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OZFLYER86 August 15, 2019

didn't Southwest park a heap of 737-300s in the desert recently ? Surely some of these could be used short term, without any major & expensive checks needed.