The first of the 737 MAXs ordered by low-cost carrier VietJet have just rolled out of Boeing’s paint shop. But you wouldn’t know it. VietJet has a very large order placed with Boeing for the 737 MAX and those orders were signed off on in a blaze of publicity. But there’s barely a squeak from the airline now as the first 737 MAXs in VietJet colors are parked at Boeing’s storage facilities in the USA. Indeed, it seems VietJet is very keen to downplay its ties with the 737 MAX.
VietJet subtly renames the 737 MAX
There are images on Twitter posted by Woodys Aeroimages that show the first VietJet 737 MAXs just out of the paint shop. But the usual telltale signage that denotes what type of aircraft a passenger might be flying on is missing. Instead, the airline’s branding dominates, and the 737 MAX 8 name is replaced with 737-8.
737-8 200 Vietjet Air pic.twitter.com/DHxzmIiSfq
— Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) December 16, 2019
— AntarasDeGos (@AntarasDeGos) December 17, 2019
VietJet has 200 Boeing 737 MAXs on order. The airline first signed off on taking 100 back in 2016. It doubled down last year at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow when it decided to take another 100 737 MAXs. The order comprises 100 Boeing 737 MAX 200s, 80 Boeing 737 MAX 10s, and 20 Boeing 737 MAX 8s.
At the time, VietJet’s President and Ceo, Madam Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao said;
“We are excited to introduce the Boeing 737 MAX into our rapidly growing fleet. These new airplanes will fit perfectly into our growth strategy, providing the efficiency and range for VietJet to expand its route network and offer more international destinations for our customers and expand alliances across the Asia Pacific, the fastest-growing aviation market in the world.”
Other airlines also downplay the 737 MAX branding
Of course, Vietjet isn’t the first airline to attempt to rebrand the 737 MAX. Midyear, the same Twitter account showed images of a parked RyanAir 737 MAX renamed as a Boeing 737-8200. Both Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 are accepted alternative names for the 737 MAX.
And at the 2019 Paris Air Show, IAG’s Willie Walsh caused a bit of a stir by signing a letter of intent with Boeing to take 200 of their 737 MAXs. He later pointedly refused to commit to having the term ‘MAX’ painted onto these aircraft.
— The Common Sense Traveller (@SenseTraveller) July 15, 2019
These brand new VietJet 737 MAXs may yet become collector’s items, grounded curios in the history of aviation. News is breaking today that Boeing is halting production of the 737 MAX. This isn’t unsurprising – Boeing had forewarned in October that it may do so. It may well spell the end of the 737 MAX for good. In that case, these VietJet 737 MAXs would be amongst the last ever produced.
Whether that leaves the VietJet board and management adrift in a sea of uncertainty is debatable. Media reports were circulating earlier this year that VietJet was looking to get out of their contracts for the 737 MAX following the March 2019 grounding. Cessation of production could be their get out of jail free card.
Simple Flying has approached VietJet for a comment on their current plans regarding the 737 MAX and is awaiting a response.