Explored: The Boeing 737 MAX Has 44,000 Flights Next Month

Some 27 airlines across the world will use the B737 MAX in November. Between them, they’ll have nearly 44,000 scheduled flights or about 1.7% of all flights globally. With 85% of movements, the MAX 8 will, not surprisingly, be very much number one. We take a look at users and then focus on two major players.

United MAX
United will be the second-largest user of the MAX in November. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

27 users of the B737 MAX in November

Southwest is the leading MAX operator next month, with over 11,000 flights, a one-quarter share of total services by the type, and more than twice as many movements as second-placed United. That’s based on analyzing schedules provided to data experts Cirium.

As the table below highlights, the low-cost carrier is one of 27 users down to operate the type. Others include Icelandair, which will deploy them to Denver – 3,568 miles (5,742 km) away  – and six other North American destinations. And they include flydubai, the ever-closer partner of Emirates, which will use them on 32 routes, as far away as Helsinki (2,819 miles, 4,467km). Australian startup Bonza will use them next year.

With six in ten flights, North America is far and away the primary region for the MAX, at least for now. This corroborates a previous finding that this region leads by so much is partly because many countries in Asia, especially China, haven’t yet permitted the type to fly again. China has the second-largest fleet of the type globally, but not one is yet scheduled to operate.

Airline (per AOC)Estimated MAX flights in November% of all MAX flights that month
United Airlines4,62610.56%
American Airlines4,0909.33%
Turkish Airlines3,6538.33%
Malta Air (part of the Ryanair Group)2,5585.84%
Air Canada1,8274.17%
Ryanair 1,0742.45%
Ryanair UK1,0322.35%
Flair Airlines9342.13%
Alaska Airlines6191.41%
LOT Polish4811.10%
Oman Air3440.78%
TUI fly Belgium2840.65%
TUI fly Netherlands2750.63%
Royal Air Maroc2000.46%
Smartwings Poland1090.25%
TUI fly Nordic960.22%
Smartwings Slovakia160.04%
Mauritiania Airlines160.04%
Fiji Airways80.02%

The smaller MAX operators

It’s often interesting to see how things are used in different or less usual or frequent ways. In terms of the MAX, Fiji Airways will use them the least, with just eight round trip flights planned on one route: the 1,686 miles (2,713km) from Nadi to Brisbane, almost entirely over water. It’ll run weekly.

Mauritania Airlines is one of only two African airlines scheduled to utilize the type. It is down to operate the twice-weekly service to Tunis, although this may change. Intriguingly, the airline’s sole MAX 8 (5T-CLJ, delivered in December 2017) has been used more intensively in October, including to Casablanca, Las Palmas, and the Tunisian capital.

You’ll notice that the above table includes various airlines that belong to the same group, such as Malta Air, the original Ryanair, and Ryanair UK. It also has multiple TUI airlines and Smartwings carriers. Smartwings Poland and Slovakia use the carrier’s aircraft from the group’s main Czech Republic unit.

Smartwings Prague to Dubai
Smartwings recently restarted Prague to Dubai. It mainly uses B737 MAX 8s. Photo: Prague Airport.

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The world’s longest MAX routes in November

Brazilian carrier Gol has the world’s longest MAX-operated route next month, from Brasilia to Cancun. With four weekly flights, the block time to the Mexican tourist resort is five minutes short of eight hours.

  1. Brasilia to Cancun, 3,664 miles (5,897km)
  2. Keflavik to Seattle, 3,622 miles (5,830km)
  3. Keflavik to Denver, 3,568 miles (5,742km)
  4. Keflavik to Orlando, 3,534 miles (5,687km)
  5. Warsaw to Sal, 3,414 miles (5,494km)
  6. Panama City to Montevideo, 3,385 miles (5,447km)
  7. Istanbul to Dar Es Salaam, 3,379 miles (5,438km)
  8. Istanbul to Zanzibar, 3,335 miles (5,367km)
  9. Panama City to San Francisco, 3,320 miles (5,342km)
  10. Panama City to Buenos Aires, 3,313 miles (5,331km)

Across all B737 MAX routes, the average sector length will be 1,185 miles, over one-third longer (35%) than the B737-800. As you’d expect, the type will benefit from lower fuel consumption, especially during a period of high oil prices, thereby improving route performance.

Gol has the world’s longest MAX route next month. Photo: Alexandro Dias via Flickr.

Southwest to use the MAX on ~500 routes

Southwest has 69 175-seat B737 MAX 8s, ch-aviation.com shows, all of which are active. Of course, for now, its MAX aircraft are far overshadowed by 462 B737-700s and 207 B737-800s. Southwest retired 36 B737-700s in 2020, with 30 to 35 expected to be retired annually over the next 10 to 15 years. Offsetting these will be incoming MAX 7s and 8s, of which it has vast numbers on firm order.

Southwest resumed flying the B737 MAX on a scheduled basis in March 11th, almost exactly two years after the type was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Next month, around 500 routes will welcome the type, Cirium shows, including a large quantity on a one-off or low-frequency basis.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N8705Q
For now, Southwest Airlines only flies the MAX 8. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Las Vegas to Phoenix is the #1 MAX route

The short link between Las Vegas to Phoenix is due to have more Southwest flights by the new aircraft than any other airport pair. Two of the top 10 routes involve Hawaii, a state that Southwest began serving in March 2019. This coming winter, it’ll be the second-largest carrier serving Hawaii.

  1. Las Vegas to Phoenix
  2. Las Vegas to San Diego
  3. Los Angeles to Phoenix
  4. Honolulu to Kahului
  5. Phoenix to San Diego
  6. Honolulu to Los Angeles
  7. Chicago Midway to Phoenix
  8. Dallas Love to Los Angeles
  9. Los Angeles to Oakland
  10. San Diego to Phoenix
Southwest's November 2021 MAX route map
This is Southwest’s MAX 8 network in November. With a median of just six flights per route that month, its approach to deploying the MAX is ‘widespread but infrequent’. Southwest flows them through the bulk of its system, as it does its other aircraft. Image: OAG Mapper.

Turkish Airlines will use them to 83 airports

Turkish Airlines’ first MAX 8 (TC-LCA) arrived in December 2018, followed by its initial MAX 9 (TC-LYA) the following February. The smaller variant has 151 seats; the larger, 169. Both have 16 in business seats, but it varies in economy: 135 for the MAX 8 and 153 for the larger MAX 9.

The Star Alliance carrier’s use of the MAX 8 has grown significantly. It is its second most-used aircraft from Istanbul Airport in November if measured in total flights, behind only the A321ceo/neo. There are more MAX 8 flights scheduled from the main airport serving Istanbul than even the B737-800.

Some 83 airports will welcome the two variants, with a heavy focus on domestic services. Internationally, Beirut, Malta, Marrakesh, Hannover, and Odesa will see them the most. Perhaps more exciting is their use to Africa, a continent that has seen incredible growth by the airline. Ten African airports will welcome them, including Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

Turkish's next MAX 8 is on the way to Istanbul
TC-LCH is Turkish Airlines’ latest MAX 8. It is being delivered to Istanbul. Image: Radarbox.com.

Turkish’s next MAX 8 is en route to Istanbul

When writing this article, the airline’s next MAX 8 (TC-LCH) is being delivered to Istanbul, routing Seattle Boeing Field-Goose Bay-Keflavik-Istanbul as “Turkish 6832.” It is the carrier’s 19th MAX 8.

Have you flown the MAX yet or have an upcoming trip? Share your experiences or plans in the comments.