Brazil’s GOL Snaps Up An Additional 28 Boeing 737 MAX 8s

São Paulo-based GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (GOL) announced a deal on Tuesday to acquire 28 additional Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The new MAXs will see 23 Boeing 737-800 NGs replaced by the end of 2022.

GOL is acquiring a further 28 Boeing 737 MAX 8s. Photo: Boeing

“We are accelerating our fleet transformation plan in anticipation of the strong recovery of air travel in the post-pandemic scenario,” said Paulo Kakinoff, GOL’s CEO. “The 737 MAX positions GOL to grow even more competitively with the expansion of routes to destinations, at the same time providing efficiency gains.”

Boeing’s best South American customer upsizes its MAX orders

GOL is Boeing’s best South American customer. The airline already has 127 Boeing 737 aircraft across its fleet. Currently, GOL flies 12 MAX 8 aircraft. GOL aims to have 28 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the air by the end of 2021 and 44 MAXs flying by the end of 2022. By then, the Boeing 737 MAX will make up 32% of GOL’s total fleet.

In its statement accompanying the deal, GOL says the arrival of the new 737 MAXs allows the airline to accelerate the return of Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 NG aircraft now at the airline on short-term leases. At the same time, GOL will get substantial flexibility managing its overall fleet as demand for air travel continues to fluctuate.

The 28 new MAXs will be financed via 15 direct operating leases, nine sale-leasebacks, and four finance leases. GOL’s strategy going forward is to have half its total fleet on finance leases and the remaining part on operating leases. The airline says this will maximize flexibility and enable it to increase (or decrease) capacity in response to shifts in demand.

“We are proud to continue supporting GOL, which has a 100% Boeing fleet, as it expands its order book for the 737,” says Boeing’s Ricardo Cavero. Boeing says the MAX can fly from Brazilian cities to destinations across the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States in one hop.

Arriving MAXs will see the return of older planes like 737-800s (pictured) to lessors. Photo: Boeing

737 MAX hands GOL economic efficiencies and environmental gains

GOL are big fans of Boeing’s MAX. By the end of 2025, the airline plans to have 75 in service (65 MAX 8s and 10 MAX 10s). Paulo Kakinoff says the MAX offers the airline new network opportunities while providing cost efficiencies and is kinder to the environment than its previous generation Boeings.

The MAX will play a key role in GOL’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Compared to the current workhorse of GOL’s fleet, the 737-800 NG, the MAX-8 consumes 15% less fuel, generates 16% less carbon emissions, and is 40% quieter.

“The 737 MAX family offers significant reductions in fuel consumption, fuel emissions, carbon, and costs, compared to other single-aisle aircraft, in addition to providing increased usage and high occupancy rates,” says GOL’s Vice President of Operations, Celso Ferrer.

“This is in line with GOL’s commitment to sustainability, through the continuous modernization of our fleet, with greener aircraft and efficient in terms of fuel consumption.”

GOL Boeing 737 MAX
GOL aims to fly 44 MAXs by the end of 2022. Photo: Getty Images

From a purely economic point of view, along with the reduction in unit cost (CASK), these 28 new MAX 8s are expected to generate approximately US$200 million in capital and cash gains for GOL.

“Since its foundation, creating long-term value through the acquisition and financing of aircraft has been a key component of GOL’s business,” notes GOL’s Richard Lark.

The 28 new Boeing MAX are expected to reduce GOL’s overall unit costs by 8% in 2022.