Belavia Airlines has received its first Boeing 737 MAX, acquired on leased from global leasing firm Air Lease Corporation. The carrier is expecting a total of five MAXs as it phases out its older 737 fleet.
Belavia gets its first 737 MAX
Belarusian flag carrier Belvia Airlines has taken delivery of its first-ever 737 MAX. The airline, previously operating with an aging Boeing 737 fleet, is in the process of modernizing its fleet. The new plane (registration: EW-528PA) is less than two years old and is fitted with CFM LEAP-1B engines.
According to Igor Tcherginets, Director General of Belavia Airlines, the plane will have an updated business class with 12 seats in a separate cabin, allowing the airline to offer an improved level of service. Belavia has an order book for four more 737 MAXs from lessor Air Lease Corporation, which Tcherginets claims will “contribute to the expansion of the route network, the opening of new directions and an increase in passenger traffic.”
Steven F. Udvar-Házy, Executive Chairman of Air Lease Corporation, said in a statement,
“ALC is pleased to confirm this historic and significant transaction with Belavia, delivering the airline’s first 737-8 today. Our team introduced the Boeing 737 aircraft family to Belavia 18 years ago and now we are delighted to announce the first of five new 737-8s on long-term lease with the airline.”
Interestingly, Air Lease Corporation avoided using the term ‘MAX’ in its statement, in line with its policy of dropping the phrase. Udvar-Házy has previously claimed that the MAX name is damaged and should be dropped, although Boeing has stuck by the branding. Just as it did after delivering two Boeing 737-8 MAXs to Sunwing Airlines, Air Lease Corporation used the term ‘737-8’ to refer to Belavia’s new jet.
Touchdown in Belarus! Belavia Airlines has received their first 737-8 airplane on lease from Air Lease Corp. Congratulations and thank you @Belavia_by for selecting the 737 family as the backbone of your international fleet. pic.twitter.com/qBsyGwhmv1
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) April 8, 2021
Fleet modernization pushes ahead
With the new 737 MAX, Belavia now has a fleet of 30 aircraft, which includes 15 older-generation Boeing 737s and 14 Embraer jets. The airline plans to retire five of its older 737s by the end of 2021 – two 737-500s and three 737-300s. Tcherginets said in February,
“By the end of the current year, we plan to terminate the operation of Boeing Classic.”
Additionally, the fleet will be bolstered by the latest generation Embraer 195-E2, with the carrier now boasting two of the jets. The airline received its first jet in December 2020 and expects one more by the end of 2021, making a total of three. Just like its new MAXs, all three Embraer jets will be acquired on lease, this time from lessor AerCap.
Belavia recently celebrated 25 years in the business by taking delivery of its second Embraer 195-E2 in March. The jet will be used on short-haul routes in Europe and is configured with 125 seats – nine in business class and 116 in economy.
What do you think of the ‘MAX’ branding? Has the term been damaged beyond repair, or branding not important? Let us know your thoughts and insights in the comments.