Southwest is gearing up to retire 20 of its oldest 737 planes this year. In their place, Southwest has placed orders for a total of 30 Boeing 737 MAX 7 planes of tiny bathroom infamy. Seven of those planes will enter the fleet in 2019. The rest will arrive subsequently in waves.
Southwest likes this model because of its increased fuel efficiency, technological upgrades and its ability to handle between 20 and 30 more passengers than previous models. Southwest currently has 513 737-700 aircraft flying and, says Simple Flying, fully intends to replace them over the next 10-20 years with “more efficient aircraft.”
Southwest’s order of 30 new Boeing planes will be enough to keep routes going. However, the full delivery will take a while. That leaves Southwest in quite a pickle until the full delivery can be completed. In fact, the airline will be left with a shortfall of about 13 aircraft. The plan is to lease a total of nine MAX 8 aircraft to fill the gap. It has not yet been announced which routes will receive the leased aircraft or what the configurations inside those planes will be.
Southwest is pretty much alone when it comes to its affinity for the 737 MAX 7. The plane has failed to find favor among most of the major carriers in the world. The only other carrier that also seems to like the 737 MAX 7 at the moment is WestJet.
In fact, WestJet has actually placed an order for 23 of the aircraft. Which plane are other carriers going for instead? There are 2,500 orders out for the MAX 8 at the moment. That dwarfs the 61 that are out for the MAX 7 by quite a bit. This is a fact that is causing many in the industry to wonder if Boeing will continue to manufacture the MAX 7 once it has completed the orders it owes to Southwest and WestJet.
[Image Source: Wikimedia/Steve Lynes]