Which Airlines Have Taken New 737 MAX Aircraft Since It Was Ungrounded?

The Boeing 737 MAX is officially back in commercial service in some countries following its 18-month ban. The ungrounding also means Boeing can begin deliveries of the MAX again and clear its huge backlog of aircraft. Here’s which airlines have taken delivery of a new 737 MAXs since its recertification in November.

737 MAX parking storage
Boeing has a huge backlog of 737 MAXs to deliver in the coming year, and the race has already begun. Photo: Getty Images

Data in this article is courtesy of Planespotters.net.

US airlines lead

US carriers lead when it comes to taking delivery of the 737 MAX. United was the first airline to resume deliveries in December, followed quickly by American and then Southwest. American has also resumed commercial flights with the MAX, the first carrier to do so in the US.

At the time of writing, United has taken delivery of six 737 MAX 9s. These planes have been sitting on the ground for roughly a year and a half, waiting for delivery. United plans to resume flights with the MAX in February. The aircraft are configured in a two-class cabin with 20 seats in business class and 159 in economy.

Boeing 737 MAX, Booking, Differences
US airlines have been quick to start taking delivery of new 737 MAXs from Boeing. Photo: Getty Images

American Airlines has taken delivery of 10 737 MAX 8s since the ungrounding. While one of the aircraft is fresh off the production line, the remaining nine have been waiting well over a year for delivery.

American resumed commercial flights with the MAX at the end of December on select routes. The MAX 8s also have a two-class configuration, with 18 seats in business class and 156 in economy.

Southwest, currently the biggest 737 MAX customer, has taken delivery of four 737 MAX 8s. The airline plans to take delivery of 35 aircraft in 2021, or roughly three a month. The all-economy 175 seat planes will return to commercial service “no sooner than the second quarter of 2021″, according to CEO Gary Kelly.

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Only one more

While US airlines have reached 20 deliveries, carriers outside the country are less keen to take new planes during this downturn. Only one airline has taken delivery of the 737 MAX outside the US: Copa Airlines.

The flag carrier of Panama, Copa, has taken delivery of one 737 MAX 9 since the ungrounding. The aircraft has a unique configuration three-class layout for the MAX, with 16 seats in business class, 24 in premium economy, and 126 in economy.

Copa 737 MAX 9Copa is the first non-US airline to take delivery of the MAX since its ungrounding. Photo: airbus777 via Wikimedia Commons

Copa has resumed flights with the MAX (under the radar if we may add) and is the first airline to fly internationally with the plane since the recertification. The airline currently has three aircraft in service.

Coming out of storage

While airlines have been slow to take deliveries of the 737 MAX due to the current situation, some carriers have begun pulling their planes out of storage. The grounding on the MAX in March 2019 forced many airlines to park their fleets in long-term storage due to the lack of a firm date for recertification.

With recertification now complete in a handful of countries, airlines have begun the process of reactivating their fleets. Singapore Airlines has brought its MAXs out of Alice Springs storage to resume flights soon. Air Canada has also started bringing its MAXs out of Sonoran Desert back to Quebec and notably suffered an engine fault during a ferry flight.

Singapore Airlines, Boeing 737 MAX, Ferry Flight
Singapore Airlines is of many carriers bringing its fleet out of long-term storage. Photo: Getty Images

The coming months will see many more countries reapprove the 737 MAX and airlines taking deliveries. While this is not the ideal time for the aviation industry, many airlines will be happy to unground their planes and return them to flight.