MIAMI – It has come to light that Southwest Airlines (WN) might be in talks to order 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets. The aircraft could receive its final approval to return to the skies at the end of November.

According to Bloomberg, the airline would be looking at “white tails” aircraft that were built but never delivered, as these would cost less. In 2019, WN and other American carriers grounded the wide-body model and canceled several orders due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

In WN’s case, the company had adopted the Boeing 737 MAX jet for the “win-win” advantage that it represented. This included cost savings related to minimal additional training for Pilots, something that would later be costly for Boeing. At the time, WN was the largest US operator of the type with 34 jets in its fleet.

As Q3 results showed a US$1.2bn loss for WN, the airline decided to pursue a more leisure-focused route network. Thus, it added more services to smaller airports such as those in Chicago, Houston, and Miami.

Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAXes parked in Victorville. Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP/ Getty Images.

Major Fleet Strategies

Alongside the Boeing 737 MAX, WN is seeking to modernize its fleet by acquiring the Airbus A320 aircraft as it might fit with its new network focus. In October, WN CEO Gary Kelly admitted that if there were ever a scenario to consider making a change in aircraft type, it would be now. He added that the carrier was not desperate to grow and might not be “for a long time.”

At the same time, the Airbus A320 jet was on WN COO Mike Van de Ven’s shortlist of aircraft to acquire. However, WN would continue evaluating the diversification of the fleet. The A320 aircraft has been popular for its capability to serve smaller communities, given its smaller size.

On its part, WN CFO Tammy Romo said that a single-type fleet (meaning Boeing-only aircraft) had several advantages, but the Airbus jet also had its benefits. She added that both Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 MAX “certainly” were the aircraft that WN would “need to fly [on] those shorter- to medium-haul markets.”

Featured photo: Southwest Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: Nick Vitolano.