In January, GOL Linhas Aereas expects to operate 1,111 flights with its Boeing 737 MAX fleet. The carrier will deploy twice as much MAX capacity as the second-largest operator at the moment, Grupo Aeromexico, in a show of the confidence the Brazilian airline has in the troubled narrowbody after 20 months grounded.
How is GOL deploying the MAX?
GOL became the first airline in the world to bring back the Boeing 737 MAX. On December 9, GOL operated the first Boeing 737 MAX flight in 20 months between Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport and Porto Alegre.
Since then, the Brazilian airline has reintegrated all of its seven MAX aircraft into its operating fleet. According to GOL, it transported over 100,000 customers on MAX flights during December.
Paulo Kakinoff, GOL’s CEO, said,
“The return of the MAX will enable GOL to resume high aircraft utilization and expand its network, predominantly concentrated in Brazil. Additionally, it will be a main catalyst of unit cost reductions in future years as GOL continues to take measures to strengthen its balance sheet and increase profitability.”
So, it is not surprising to see the MAX accumulating many flight hours in Brazil during January. The Brazilian media outlet Aeroin first noted the airline’s plans for more then 1,000 MAX flights to start the year.
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So, where is it flying?
Currently, GOL is not flying internationally. It expects to do so by March 28, first connecting to cities like Montevideo (Uruguay), Miami and Orlando (US), Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Asunción (Paraguay), and Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). It will continue growing its international map route until July 3.
So, currently, GOL is only using the MAX on domestic flights. According to Aeroin, GOL is deploying its MAX fleet on 48 domestic routes through January. Eight out of the ten routes where it will use the MAX the most are from Guarulhos in Sao Paulo.
For example, it plans 134 round flights between Sao Paulo and Recife; 122 flights between Sao Paulo and Natal; 114 flights between Sao Paulo and Guarulhos; 112 flights between Recife and Brasilia, and 94 flights between Sao Paulo and Belem.
With a capacity for 186 passengers, GOL will deploy more than 206 thousand seats in January with the MAX.
Nevertheless, GOL is currently scheduling fewer MAX flights for the following months. It currently expects to operate 537 MAX flights in February and 600 in March, although these numbers can change due to Brazil’s high season.
GOL’s trust in the Boeing 737 MAX
GOL is one of the four Latin American airlines to have MAX aircraft in their fleets currently. The others are Grupo Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, and Aerolineas Argentinas. The Brazilian airline shares a commonality with Copa, as they both only have Boeing 737 fleets. Copa used to have Embraer aircraft but has sold it all as part of its fleet reduction program.
For GOL, the B737 MAX is the gamble of its future. The airline expects to reduce its Boeing 737-700 and 800 fleets as it receives newer MAX aircraft.
That’s why GOL’s management didn’t hesitate to bring the MAX back as soon as the Brazilian Government allowed them to. Paulo Kakinoff added on this,
“We have trained our pilots and undertaken technical flights for the return of the MAX aircraft. We are confident that it is one of the safest and most efficient aircraft in the world. The MAX is an important reinforcement to our fleet for the high season. (It will enable) us to more effectively manage our network while also gaining the benefits of its 15% fuel efficiency over the NG and longer flight distances.”
Have you ever traveled inside a GOL’s Boeing 737 MAX? How was it? Let us know in the comments.