The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600

The Boeing 737-600 has never been popular a popular aircraft. There are just 12 in active use across three operators: ‘Janet’ (operating for the US Air Force by AECOM Federal Services); Air Algerie; and Tunisair. The two airline operators have just six active 736s. While WestJet has 13, all are currently stored – but they’re bookable from August onwards. Will they return?

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
WestJet’s 736s are due to return from August. Photo: Johnnyw3 via Wikimedia.

What’s happening with WestJet’s 736s?

WestJet is absent in the active users list. With 13 112-seat 736s, the Canadian carrier is the largest remaining operator, following SAS retiring the type in 2019. However, in the wake of coronavirus, WestJet has removed reference to the 736 from the “Our aircraft” page on its website, although the B737-700, -800, and MAX 8 all appear.

According to ch-aviation.com, all its 736s are stored. Have they been permanently retired, like the carrier’s B767-300ERs, or will they be brought back to action? The type is still scheduled and bookable to operate from August onwards, as shown below. Whatever happens, the 736 has just a tiny role to play in terms of total 737 Next Generation operations.

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
Calgary-Vancouver is scheduled to be the 736’s second-largest airport-pair this summer. Image: WestJet.com.

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Just 0.15% of all Next Generation capacity

Assuming WestJet does use them again, the 736 will have just 0.15% of all Boeing 737 NG capacity this year. Not that it was ever high. In 2004, for example, the type had 3.39% of all NG capacity, analyzing Cirium data indicates. In other words, just over three in every 100 NG seats were by the baby 737.

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
The 736 has well under 1% of all NG seats worldwide this year. Source of data: Cirium.

Less attractive economics

Like with the A318, the unpopularity of the 736 is largely because of its higher weight in relation to equivalent aircraft. The -700, only slightly heavier, has a much greater payload. This means that the economics of the -600s are not favorable. It also reflects the trend for higher-capacity narrowbodies with lower unit costs and greater revenue opportunities.

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
Tunisair and Air Algerie are currently the only active airline users of the variant. Photo: Getty Images.

SAS was the #1 airline

SAS retired the last of its -600s in November 2019 after 21 years. It was the launch customer of the variant in 1998. SAS was the largest 736 operator, with a total of 30 examples operated in all. If 2004-2019 is added up, the Scandinavian operator had half (51%) of all seats by the 736 worldwide.

In the last year, over three-quarters of seats were deployed domestically. The 429-mile link from Stockholm Arlanda to Luleå was the number-one domestic route, while internationally it was Arlanda to Helsinki. Indeed, Sweden saw eight in ten 736 seats in the final year.

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
SAS retired the 736 in 2019. In that final year, the aircraft was mainly used to, from, and within Sweden Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia.

Algiers-Marseille is the top route this summer

Across Air Algerie, Tunisair, and WestJet, the top-15 736 routes this summer are as follows, with all subject to change. Algeria is set to have nearly half a million seats, particularly domestically and to France. Its French network will encompass four Algerian cities and six airports in France.

The Forgotten Boeing 737 Variant? A Look At The -600
At the time of writing, Tunisair’s only active B737-600, TS-IOK, is en route from Paris Orly to the tourist destination of Monastir. Image: RadarBox.com.
  1. Algiers to Marseille
  2. Calgary-Vancouver
  3. New York La Guardia-Toronto
  4. Algiers-Oran
  5. Algiers-Constantine
  6. Algiers-Jijel
  7. Calgary-Victoria
  8. Monastir-Nice
  9. Edmonton-Vancouver
  10. Djerba-Lyon

Have you flown the 736? If so, with which operator and what are your memories? Let us know in the comments.

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