MIAMI — As previously reported last March, Lion Air’s subsidiary Malindo Air will take delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 on May 15, thus becoming the first in the world to operate the re-engined narrowbody airliner.
The first aircraft is scheduled to depart Boeing Field on May 15 and arrive to Kuala Lumpur on May 17. Following a welcome ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on May 18, it is expected to enter into service on May 19, from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore as OD803. The aircraft will then debut on the Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Don Muang route later in the day.
And no, you’re not seeing things. The Batik Malaysia aircraft pictured below is the correct plane. Malindo Air is being rebranded as Batik Malaysia which will ply international routes while the current Batik Air brand remains domestically focused within Indonesia. Airways will have a reporter on the inaugural flight.
Back in November 2011, Lion Air placed an order 201 737 MAXs and 29 Next-Generation 737-900ERs. The $21.7 billion agreement also includes purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes, and at that time it was the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing’s history by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes.
Southwest Airlines was originally planned to be the launch customer of the 737 MAX. The American carrier and Boeing teamed up to put the MAX through route proving runs, in order to assess the behavior of the aircraft under a normal operational environment.
However, the Dallas-based carrier, although first to receive the MAX, will not debut the type until October 1, when it will introduce the new type on its original “Triangle Route” —Houston Hobby, San Antonio and Dallas Love Field.
Southwest will fit its 171 MAX 8s with its Heart Interior cabin. The new cabin is an evolution of the Evolve cabin launched in 2012.
Southwest pioneered the low-cost carrier model that helped make the 737 into Boeing’s all-time best-seller. The airline is the world’s largest operator of the type, and it was the launch customer for three variants of the 737: the 737-500 in 1988, the 737-700 in 1993.