480 Active Aircraft: Which Airlines Fly The Boeing 737 MAX?

Some 480 B737 MAX aircraft were active as of January 1st. Thirty-eight airlines use at least one variant. With 69 jets, Southwest remains number-one. The carrier helps the US and Canada to have almost one in two MAX aircraft, clearly benefiting from the type still not flying in China.

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N323SG (4)
American has 42 active MAX 8s, the second-highest number after Southwest. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

480 active B737 MAXs

The MAX 8 represents more than eight in every ten of the 480 operational aircraft, according to Phil’s Airline Fleet News, an excellent resource for the latest deliveries and more. With 409 examples across 36 airlines, the mid-sized variant far overshadows the larger -9. Of course, no carrier currently uses the MAX 7 or MAX 10.

Southwest has more MAX 8s than any other carrier, while United remains king for the -9. Only Panama’s Copa Airlines and Alaska Airlines exclusively use the MAX 9. If Ryanair and TUI are considered at group rather than unit level, they have 41 and 28 aircraft. These airlines rank fourth and sixth worldwide, respectively. However, the MAX is still very much all about US and Canadian airlines. Between them, these airlines have 226 aircraft against just 16 in Asia proper with SpiceJet and Singapore Airlines.

Last month, SunExpress took delivery of its first MAX 8, and it now has five. Meanwhile, Romania’s Blue Air received its fifth example just before Christmas. Although not yet operational, Ethiopian Airlines will soon resume use of the aircraft.

AirlineActive MAX 8s (as of January 1st)Active MAX 9s (as of January 1st)
United Airlines1630
American Airlines42
Air Canada30
Turkish Airlines195
Malta Air (from Ryanair)22
Copa Airlines13
TUI Airways13
Alaska Airlines10
Flair Airlines9
Buzz (from Ryanair)8
Oman Air8
Singapore Airlines6
Sunwing Airlines6
Aerolineas Argentinas5
Blue Air5
Fiji Airways5
LOT Polish5
TUI Belgium5
TUI Netherlands5
Cayman Airlines3
TUIfly Deutschland3
Enter Air2
Royal Air Maroc2
SCAT Airlines11
TUIfly Nordic2
Corendon Airlines1
Mauritania Airlines1

What has been delivered in the past few days?

According to the same source, four additional machines were delivered in and around New Year, as shown below. When writing, none are yet operational, so they aren’t counted in the above figures.

  • Copa Airlines: MAX 9 (HP-9914CMP)
  • flydubai: MAX 8 (A6-FMN)
  • Alaska Airlines: MAX 9 (N929AK)
  • TUI Netherlands: MAX 8 (PH-TFR)

flydubai’s latest aircraft stands out. According to Radarbox.com, it left Seattle Boeing Field as “flydubai 9657” at 18:48 on December 1st, arriving Shannon the next day. After nearly a day there, presumably for crew rest time, it left for Amman on January 2nd at 10:25. At the time of writing, it hasn’t departed Jordan for the UAE.

MAX 8s and MAX 9s
This vividly shows the current situation with the type in Asia. Highlighted is UA2347, a MAX 8 from Salt Lake City to Newark. It left Utah at 00:03 and will arrive at 05:35 local time. Image: Radarbox.com.

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Smartwings: a near eight-hour MAX flight

Long routes using the MAX is nothing new. These aircraft successfully combine range with reasonable capacity and far better fuel consumption than their predecessors. Like the A321neo, they are helping to redefine long-haul economics. They benefit from a far lower trip cost in exchange for a slightly higher seat-mile cost.

On January 2nd, Smartwings used OK-SWC, delivered in May 2018, from Salalah, on the Oman coast, to Prague. With a great circle distance of 3,172 miles (5,104km), it had a planned flight of 7 hours and 57 minutes (!). However, it ended up taking 19 minutes less.

Southwest is very much the biggest user

With 69 aircraft, Southwest has nearly one in five active MAX 8s. On January 3rd, it has scheduled 288 flights, OAG shows, although it’s likely that some will be canceled because of Omicron. Over 200 routes are due to see the type.

I have flown one MAX aircraft so fly, a Ryanair MAX-8 200 (EI-HEZ) from London Stansted to Lanzarote. I enjoyed it and could tell the difference versus a B737-800. What are your experiences of the MAX? Let us know in the comments.