Turkish Airlines Set To Decide On The Future Of Its 737 MAX Fleet

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has thrust great uncertainty across the airline industry as a whole. However, as airlines look to emerge from the crisis and enter their respective recovery periods, there are decisions that need to be made. Turkish Airlines, for example, is going to have to weigh up the future of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet by the end of the year.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Getty
Turkish Airlines recommenced 737 MAX flights earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images

Time to decide

Turkish Airlines has bought itself some time when it comes to deciding on the future of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet. The Turkish flag carrier, which operates out of the new Istanbul Airport, had previously reduced its orders of Boeing’s new narrowbody family from 75 to 25 aircraft. As Simple Flying reported at the time, the restructure took place this year.

However, aero.de reports that the carrier may yet be able to restore the majority of these orders as options. Of the 50 aircraft that it initially cut from the order books, the carrier has converted 40 of them to options ‘until December 2021.’ This gives Turkish Airlines until the end of the year to decide whether or not to take these up as firm orders after all.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
Turkish Airlines operates two variants of the 737 MAX. Image: Boeing

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Turkish Airlines’ present 737 MAX fleet

With Turkish Airlines having converted 40 of the cut aircraft to options, this leaves 10 that it won’t be taking up, and 25 firm orders. Of the firm orders, aero.de reports that the airline received 12 prior to the type’s 20-month grounding in March 2019.

It has since taken another four following the type’s recertification. These aircraft were completed some time ago, but could not be delivered due to the grounding period. Three were examples of the MAX 8, with the fourth being a MAX 9.

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
The MAX 8 is Turkish Airlines’ most numerous MAX variant. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

According to data from ch-aviation.com, Turkish Airlines now has 12 MAX 8s and four MAX 9s in its fleet. This leaves nine firm orders awaiting delivery, of which six are MAX 8s. The final three orders are, once again, examples of the MAX 9. The airline’s website states:

At Turkish Airlines, our first priority is flight safety. Following approval from aviation authorities, we have resumed flights with the Boeing 737 MAX series aircraft, which have undergone nearly two years of safety improvements and thousands of hours of test flights.”

Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
Turkish Airlines has until the end of the year to decide whether or not to take up its remaining 40 Boeing 737 MAX options. Photo: Alec Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

Back in action

Turkish Airlines restarted services with the MAX back in April 2021. The first variant to re-enter service was the MAX 8, which the carrier began deploying on domestic routes four months ago. According to data from ch-aviation, Turkish Airlines operates the MAX 8 with a two-class, 151-seat configuration. This consists of 16 business and 135 economy seats.

Meanwhile, it was June 2021 before Turkish Airlines re-introduced the larger MAX 9 on revenue-earning services. Once again, the Turkish flag carrier first restarted flights with this type on domestic routes. Turkish Airlines operates these aircraft with 169 seats. They have the same 16-seat business class cabin as the MAX 8, but 153 economy seats.

Simple Flying has reached out to Turkish Airlines for further information regarding the future of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet, and will add to this article as more detail is received. 

Have you flown on one of Turkish Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX aircraft? Would you like to see more of these next-generation narrowbodies in the carrier’s fleet? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.