Caribbean Airlines is set to take delivery of 12 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the coming years. But what do we know about the order so far? Simple Flying decided to take a deep dive into the airline and its plans to find out.
The Boeing 737 MAX has been making its comeback across the globe. Just yesterday, the Indian DGCA gave the green light for operations of the type to resume in its airspace. Since the FAA ungrounded the aircraft, it has returned to many airlines, but also airlines such as Ryanair have taken their first aircraft of the type. Caribbean Airlines is set to follow soon as the first two of its aircraft have now taken their first flights at the Boeing factory.
12 aircraft on order
The Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737 MAX story started back in November 2018. On the 21st, Boeing revealed that the airline was to take 12 of its MAX aircraft, all coming from the -8 variant of the family.
Caribbean Airlines hasn’t directly ordered the aircraft from Boeing but will instead lease them from a third party. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the lessor of these aircraft is Air Lease Corporation, often referred to as ALC.
Two aircraft have flown
So far, two aircraft bound for the airline have taken their first flights, while a total of four have been matched to a manufacturer’s serial numbers according to ch-aviation.com. Here’s what we know about each of the four so far.
The first aircraft due to go to Caribbean Airlines is registered as 9Y-CAL, with the MSN 43385. The aircraft (shown in the first photo of this article) is now 0.21 years old, having taken its first flight on June 12th. As mentioned, the aircraft will be owned by Air Lease Corporation. While Caribbean Airlines only signed the lease for the aircraft in 2018, the specific aircraft has been on order from Boeing since July 2012. The aircraft has an estimated delivery date in October.
The second Boeing 737 MAX to go to Caribbean Airlines is 9Y-GUY. This aircraft is slightly younger. Taking its first flight on June 22nd, it clocks in at 0.18 years. The aircraft carries the MSN 43319 and is expected to be delivered in November.
With no firm registration, the third aircraft will carry the manufacturer’s serial number 43329. Unlike the other two aircraft, this one was ordered on March 17th, 2014, by ALC. Its estimated delivery date is June 2022.
Again with no firm registration, the fourth aircraft expected to go to the airline is MSN 43340. This aircraft is also estimated to be delivered in June 2022 and was also initially ordered by ALC in March 2014.
Can the Boeing 737 MAX fly in Trinidad and Tobago?
Caribbean Airlines is based out of Port Of Spain Piarco International Airport (POS) in Trinidad and Tobago. The Director-General of Civil Aviation ordered the aircraft to be prohibited from use in its airspace on March 13th, 2019. This came following the tragic crash of an Ethiopian Boeing 737 MAX, the second such crash in half a year.
The aircraft was grounded in Trinidad and Tobago for precisely 22 months. The Civil Aviation Authority removed its grounding order for the Boeing 737 MAX on January 13th, 2021. Both orders were applied to both the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9. The MAX 7 and MAX 10 are yet to be fully certified by the FAA in the first place.
Where might the Boeing 737 MAX fly?
We don’t have a firm clue yet of where Caribbean Airlines is planning to fly the Boeing 737 MAX once it has the aircraft in its fleet. However, we can look at where the airline is currently flying its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to know where it may fly.
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The airline serves 41 routes connecting 41 destinations across 16 countries with a two-type fleet consisting of the ATR 72-600 and the Boeing 737-800. According to schedule data from Cirium, the airline is currently operating a reduced schedule of around 400 flights a month, expected to rise to 1,000 from November.
Looking at data for October, the airline’s busiest destination will be its home of Port of Spain, with 150 inbound flights. There are 14 destinations in total for the month, with the top ten as follows,
- Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – 150 arrivals
- Georgetown, Guyana – 90 arrivals
- New York (JFK), United States – 80 arrivals
- Kingston, Jamaica – 50 arrivals
- Miami, United States – 31 arrivals
- Toronto, Canada – 18 arrivals
- Bridgetown, Barbados – 14 arrivals
- Paramaribo, Suriname – 14 arrivals
- Antigua, Antigua – 10 arrivals
- Orlando, United States – nine arrivals
Replacing the Boeing 737-800
In April, ch-aviation.com reported that Caribbean Airlines would replace its Boeing 737-800s with its MAX order. According to the publication, the airline could’ve left its dry-lease commitment for the aircraft penalty-free but decided to stick with the type.
When the pandemic began, the airline had 12 737-800s, meaning the MAX would be a like-for-like replacement. The airline currently has just nine aircraft left, with only seven of them listed as active. Like British Airways with the Boeing 747 to 777X transition, the airline has reduced its capacity in the interim, with deliveries planned for when demand is expected to return.
The remaining fleet of nine Boeing 737-800s has an average age of 19.1 years with a total capacity of 1,350 seats. All of the aircraft are leased, four from AerCap, three from Carlyle Aviation Partners, and two from Thunderbolt Aircraft Lease. In contrast, the airline owns five out of seven of its ATR 72s, with a value of $48.91 million. The remaining two are on lease from Nordic Aviation Capital.
Are you excited to see the first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft getting ready to go to Caribbean Airlines? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!