Speculation is mounting that Boeing is about to close a blockbuster 737 MAX deal with Southwest Airlines. The airline already has scores of MAXs in its fleet and is putting some of them back into service this week. If the reports are correct, the prospective multi-billion-dollar order will help underscore the remarkable return of the 737 MAX.
Reports suggest Southwest Airlines is eyeing ordering at least 130 Boeing 737 MAXs
According to a Reuters report by Eric Johnson, Southwest Airlines is in the final stages of negotiations to buy 130 Boeing 737 MAX 7s with options for 170 more. The Reuters’ report cites unnamed sources close to the deal. Simple Flying has approached Southwest Airlines and Boeing for confirmation. Both have declined to comment.
Should Southwest Airlines sign off on the order, the deal would be a triumph for Boeing. After a torrid two years, things are now on the up at the big aircraft manufacturer. In February, Boeing posted its first net positive month for aircraft orders since March 2019. So far this year, after cancelations and tinkering with existing orders, Boeing’s order book has grown by 34 planes.
Confidence in the 737 MAX surges
And it’s the 737 MAX that is attracting the most interest at Boeing. After two fatal crashes and a 20-month grounding in the United States. The FAA recertified the plane to fly in the United States last November. Many pundits speculated on whether the plane would ever return to service during the grounding, and if it did, would any airline buy it?
It looks like it’s a resounding yes on both points. United States-based airlines have been gradually bringing the 737 MAX back into service without incident. American Airlines put the plane back in the air just before the New Year. United Airlines resumed flying the 737 MAX in mid-February. Alaska Airlines operated its first 737 MAX flight on Monday, March 1. Southwest Airlines is returning the 737 MAX to service today.
In a statement earlier this week, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said;
“I have the utmost confidence in our ability to safely operate the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
“The changes made and the measures taken, by literally thousands of experts around the globe, have convinced me that the MAX is ready for us to safely fly once again with our proud and beautiful Southwest livery and our pilots’ collective stamp of approval.”
A remarkable turn around for Boeing and the 737 MAX
It’s that kind of confidence that’s seen airlines put their money down and order more MAXs. In December, Alaska Airlines boosted their MAX orders and options to 120 planes. In the same month, Dublin-based Ryanair increased its order for MAXs from 135 planes to 210 planes.
More recently, United Airlines ordered 25 further MAXs and brought forward the delivery timeline for 45 MAXs already on order. It’s a remarkable turnaround for an aircraft many experts had written off. Boeing, who persisted with the plane in the face of so much adverse publicity, will welcome the business and confidence in the MAX.
Meanwhile, news that Southwest is close to signing another 737 MAX deal with Boeing will not be so welcome across the Atlantic. With Southwest out shopping for new aircraft to replace their older Boeing 737-700s, Simple Flying had previously reported the airline was looking at the Airbus A220. That aircraft type has a lot going for it.
But Southwest Airlines has always kept it simple and largely operated one aircraft type (the 737) from the one manufacturer. An A220 order from Southwest Airlines would have been a major upset and a big win for Airbus.
Do you think Southwest Airlines should stick with the Boeing 737 or try out the A220? Post a comment and let us know.