MIAMI – According to a report by Reuters, Southwest Airlines (WN) is preparing to close a multi-billion dollar deal for 130 Boeing 737 MAX 7s.
If confirmed and closed, this deal would be a major and much needed boon for Boeing, as it’s 737 MAX aircraft are beginning to be ungrounded around the world. The news comes as WN prepares to reintroduce the Boeing 737 MAX 8 into their fleet this week.
Airbus and Boeing have been in stiff competition in hopes to fulfill a major order as WN looks to replace its aging Boeing 737-700 fleet. WN had at one point late last year been considering the Airbus A220-300 as a suitable replacement for its almost 500 Boeing 737-700s.
This would be the first major order for Boeing after almost a year of worldwide groundings and 460 order cancellations of the Boeing 737 MAX.
After a difficult couple of years and lots of ground lost to Airbus, this order by Southwest would be a much needed change for the aircraft manufacturer.
The airline has been a loyal customer to Boeing, having operated an all Boeing 737 fleet since their start almost 50 years ago. An estimated 1000 Boeing 737s have been operated by WN, including the Boeing 737-200, and most recently, the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
The Boeing 737 MAX 7 would make for the easiest transition for pilots and engineering needs from the Boeing 737-700, as the MAX 7 was designed to be the replacement for 737-700s.
According to planespotters.net, the average age for Southwest’s Boeing 737-700s is 16.6 years, while its Boeing 737-800s are only 5.6 years old on average.
If confirmed, the aircraft ordered by WN would be delivered to coincide with the retirement of older Boeing 737-700s.
Battle for US Orders
Both Airbus and Boeing anticipated an extremely large order, setting the stage for a battle for the order. Negotiations were first reported late last year, meaning the price per aircraft for WN is most likely extremely low.
Gaining orders for Boeing’s MAX aircraft and Airbus’ A220 aircraft in the United States has been a point of major contention between the two aircraft manufacturers. The A220-100 and A220-300, originally designed and marketed by Bombardier in Canada as the CS100 and CS300, faced significant challenges before the program’s sale to Airbus.
Although Bombardier fought vigorously for orders, the company could not keep up with Airbus and Boeing’s ability to offer significantly lower prices on their products. Additionally, Airbus and Boeing had established plants and manufacturing infrastructure that allowed them to enjoy cheaper prices on parts and development costs.
Currently, Delta Air Lines (DL), jetBlue (B6) and David Neeleman’s Breeze Airways are the only US carriers to order the Airbus A220.
Despite its significant difficulties over the past two years, the Boeing 737 MAX program has been able to continue the continued success of the 737 program.
Featured Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways