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Southwest Won’t Take On Older Boeing 737s to Cover Max Void

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Southwest Airlines Co., which is canceling 150 flights a day as the Boeing Co. 737 Max remains grounded, says it won’t bring back used 737 models to help cover the flying void. ( Mais...

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spinner750281 5
Boeing has 4,699 outstanding orders for the 737 MAX which represents 80% of the company's entire order backlog. With a number of Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG); 737-600/-700/-800/ -900 built, 7,097 as of May 2019 and of which 7,031 have been delivered.
Suposedly the worldwide fleet includes 387 airplanes, while the US-registered fleet includes 74 planes.

In all, 59 operators are using the Boeing 737 Max Aircraft.

The most common variant is the -800 series, which has had over 5,000 delivered as of 2019 and is the most widely used narrowbody aircraft worldwide. As of July 2018, 6,343 Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft were in commercial service. This comprised of 39 -600s, 1,027 -700s, 4,764 -800s and 513 -900s. To date; June 30, 2019, 505 Boeing 737-900ER aircraft have been produced.

AMERICAN Airlines has 24 of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet, has ordered 76 more. American is the second largest operator with 24 Max 8s out of service. 

UNITED Airlines, which operates 14 Max 9s, has the planes out of its flight operations schedule. The airline was due to receive 16 more Max 9s this year, with 122 on order.

SOUTHWEST, the largest of U.S. Boeing 737 operators of the Max has 34 in its fleet and operates more than 753 Boeing 737 aircraft; with a fleet life average of 11 plus years. Southwest took delivery of its first Max Aircraft in October 2017. Southwest Airlines was due to take delivery of 41 aircraft this year, however with Boeing 737 groundings, manufacturing and storage availability have produced delivery constraints. It is suposedly waiting on orders of a further 246 of the single-aisle Boeing aircraft.

ALASKA  AIRLINES has 0 Boeing 737 Max Aircraft in their fleet. The airline has 32 Max 9s on order and was due to take delivery of the first one this summer, with two more by the end of the year.

Interestingly enough, I was able to find 31 replacement Boeing 737 800 series Aircraft in 20 minutes that are available from 13 holding companies for full flight operations as we speak, with or without crews at user discretion, 2 of which will be available by 4th Quarter, all of which could be leased, or purchased at full price. So the aircraft are available, and many airlines have the available crews to fly them. It would just take a bit of crew rescheduling and with some maybe some sim refresher time, and they would be up and flying in no time. Aircraft temporary N registration is not a problem as the FAA is currently willing to work with carriers to supplement for loss revenue caused by the 737 Max groundings. Airline companies have the means to make up loss revenues. Whether or not they do so is up to them.
Safety should always be the number one concern, and air carriers know this. Whether or not they adhere to FAA standards for the sake of turning a profit is up to corporate leaders. But again if safety was really the issue here, adequate development and testing of MCAS would've been a manufacturing priority, along with airline advisories on it's purpose and proper operations.
airuphere 1
Air Canada out 24 Max and West Jet and Sunwing in Canada
siriusloon 0
31 aircraft to replace 387 and up to 59 airlines are competing to get them. Anyone owning those 31 aircraft is probably busy picking the upholstery colours for their new Ferrari(s).
siriusloon 9
Where are all the used 737s that airlines could bring back? The older models they sold or retired are either flying for new owners or sitting in the desert and just because they're parked doesn't mean they can fly again. It depends entirely on if (and how well) they were "pickled". If they were just parked waiting to be parted out or scrapped, the cost to make them airworthy would be enormous. Even those that were properly stored in a way to be suitable for reactivation would need overhaul, refurbishment, inspection, test flights, etc, etc. No regulator is going to rush any of that and no airline should want to. If a single non-MAX 737 crashes in the next few years (for any reason), the entire model family is doomed as a viable aircraft in the eyes of the flying public -- and let's not forget that without them, no airline and no airliner manufacturer makes money.

The idea that there's lots of older 737s just waiting to go back to work is an assumption, not a fact.
Karen Lovett 2
Totally agree
djames225 1
Ummmm..perhaps you forgot the squawk from late last week. "United buys 19 Boeing 737NG to fill the gap generated by grounded 737 MAXs" If United finds them, and I've heard American are getting a couple, so could Southwest. They found them somewhere.
canuck44 2
As with Southwest, leases are running out. GE Capital probably already has a customer to take the 737's off their hands which would represent almost pure profit as they have retired almost all the capital cost.. As with any other shortage of commodity, they will have bid these out.
siriusloon -1
Maybe some of those current operators of the leased aircraft will want to extend their leases if they aren't receiving new MAXs and/or have parked MAXs they've already started to receive?

There is not a bottomless supply of used non-MAX 737s that airlines can just wander out and find "somewhere".
John Haller 1
That was a misleading headline which did not match the article. United uses 737-700 because their contract with the pilots union only allows 255 larger regional jets (over 50 seats) with first class cabins. This pushes them to use 737-700 for the bigger destinations, and the retooled CRJ with 50 seats, but more first class and onboard luggage in the place of the original 70 seats. In no way was this a replacement for the 737M9. United does not use the Max 8.
siriusloon -1
Ummmm, perhaps you didn't understand what I said: "Where are all the used 737s that airlines could bring back?" Are you saying there's an unlimited supply? Just because United found some does not mean anybody else can, too. There's 19 fewer used 737s out there now. So again, how many are available? In what condition are they? How much would it cost to get an airworthiness certificate for them? How much will it cost to requalify pilots and cabin crew and maintainers? And how many are actually available? Finding then "somewhere" is hardly the solution. An airline would need something more specific than that.
djames225 3
I never said there was an unlimited supply, but the way you worded your comment, it appeared all doom and gloom and there are non that would take little to make airworthy again. As I said, United found 19, which will be in service come December. I'd say 4 mths for 19 craft isn't bad. We don't know where they found them, but they found them 'somewhere" and apparently American has as well.
siriusloon -3
Which still means that there's at least 20 fewer available now which means it's harder to find used 737s. The fact that two airlines found some does not mean that therefore any other airline can or will. It actually makes it less likely that they will. The supply is finite and each acquisition reduces the supply, not proves that there's more out there.

Anyone who does own a 737 that's available will be rubbing their hands with glee because as the supply dwindles, their price goes up.

There is no Krazy Al's Used 737 Emporium offering "deals! deals! deals!" on late-night TV...or anywhere else.
john kilcher 1
Flight Aware.... tighter leash, please. These back and forth banters really gives any additional thoughts other than back biting.
siriusloon 1
If you don't like reading comments from people who disagree with each other, why are you reading them? Maybe you should compare notes with the guy in another thread who accuses this forum of not allowing free speech because it removed his racist comments. He wants a forum where people can say whatever they want and you want it limited to posts that don't upset you personally.
paul trubits 5
Southwest is canceling 150 of their least profitable flights a day. Until they start losing business to other airlines, they will continue with this business model. Meanwhile, fares are up and the planes are full.
siriusloon 1
"Flight International" had some interesting quotes from Southwest about the process of (someday) returning the 737 MAX to service:

"Once the grounding lifts, Southwest faces the task of bringing into service three distinct groups of 737 Max, [Southwest COO] Van de Ven says. One group includes the 34 aircraft...pulled from service when the grounding took effect. Southwest estimates it may need one to two months to perform maintenance required to bring those storage at Victorville, California to operational readiness."

Another group includes 737 Max already produced and stored by Boeing, but not yet delivered. The [third] group includes aircraft that will be delivered normally from...the production line [after the type is cleared to resume flying again]."
Jamar Jackson 1
I’m interested to see how all this plays out. Any more max crashes and Southwest will have to abandon Boeing. I’m sure they have thought of this scenario what if. Alaska flies airbus ex. Virgin southwest may have to jump on over.
crk112 1
Southwest is in bed with the FAA over the MAX.. it would be a conflict of interest if SWA made any indication that they felt there is a problem with the MAX aircraft.
djames225 1
If they want to continue losing that kind of revenue on a daily basis, and maybe client base, there is an old adage that may come to mind. "More money than brains"
siriusloon -2
But if they are losing that much money, they will have less money than brains sooner or later.
ray hughes 1
I have seen reports that the US Government agencies are unlikely to allow the 737 max back into the skies until January 2020 at the earliest.. Not November this year.. If this turns out to be a valid target it be interesting to see if SWA can last out without some special short term leasing arrangements.
paul trubits 1
They are pulling out of KEWR in November and moving some of the flights to KLGA.
siriusloon 1
The FAA hasn't, and won't, set a deadline. They'll let it fly again when they believe it's safe to do so, whenever that is.
ray hughes 1
Officially yes, you are correct of course..but due to reputations and a world spotlight, I tend to believe the November target is slipping - and SWA has already pushed back their schedules even further to the 5th January... see here
Louie C. 1
Carriers are doing this to preserve stock value, not because they have in-depth knowledge of the proceedings. It’s like telling everyone on the road trip, “we’re almost there.”
Mike Boster 0
Is it possible that SWA could cancel their order for the next 41 737 MAX aircraft and order up that many or more A321neo's? And can they force Boeing to take back their existing fleet of 34 grounded MAX aircraft?
Paul Lupa 2
I doubt that either Boeing or SWA would make public the details of the existing agreement to buy aircraft or how it is being amended. But I would expect that both Boeing and SWA would have multiple clauses that address performance and delivery schedules that would prevent SWA from just cancelling the order. No company wants to drive their customer out of business, nor does a customer want to kill their supplier. I'm sure there are some very tense meetings but SWA has hitched their wagon to Boeing and I'm sure they will stay with B737-whatever.
Don Quixote 3
Southwest isn't buying Airbus.
Adam DiSarro 2
Well if they don't want to buy from Airbus and can't buy from Boeing, surely they can buy from COMAC (China) or Irkut (Russia)? Probably won't though.
siriusloon -1
Time will tell.
airuphere 3
The switch would be huge for them.. new training, new sims, new ground equipment etc... they’re not as flexible as other airlines as they’ve made their whole company on one type by one manufacturer. As DID west jet but at least they’ve added 767 and 787 recently.. still only one manufacturer.. diversity is key in all things.
lesoreilly 3
West Jet also added some Q400s to compete on some routes where the 737s were overkill
siriusloon 1
The 767s and now 787s were added on routes where the 737 was "underkill". There's an old saying: "horses for courses". Today's buzzspeak has turned that into "rightsizing".
Alan Dahl 1
I’d say the easiest way for SWA to add Airbus to their fleet would be to do it the same way Alaska Airlines did, buy another airline that’s already a Airbus operator like Jet Blue. That way you get their expertise, infrastructure, etc. so you’re not starting from scratch. Now that doesn’t mean that would be a good approach for SWA but it could be a way for them to expand their fleet mix quickly.
paul trubits 1
When SWA bought Airtran, they sold their jets(I think to DAL).
Alan Dahl 2
True, I’m just saying that if an airline wants to migrate Boeing->Airbus or vice-versa an acquisition is one way to go.
siriusloon 3
They can cancel it, but then the question is what penalties there might be for doing so. There would be a clause in the contract covering that. They're not going to just tear it up and walk away because that's breach of contract and they'd lose far more in a lawsuit by Boeing than paying a cancellation penalty.

As for ordering A321neos, they'd have to get in line with all the existing customers and any other airlines making the switch. There are no white tails out there just waiting to be bought like happens with new cars.
chalet 3
The Max 8 mess was not foreseen at the time of the contracts were signed so there is room for the Airlines to cancel Max 8 purchases (damaged goods?) and buy earlier models from Boeing too or if these guys get too tough Airbus has big offices in DCA.
siriusloon 1
How do you know that there is a clause in the contract that says "if there's a 737 MAX 8 mess, Southwest can cancel this contract without penalty"? That would mean Southwest anticipated the mess ANF that Boeing also agreed to let a customer cancel a major order without penalty.

What proof do you have that there is "room" for the airlines to cancel a signed contract? That's an extraordinary claim to make without any evidence to back it up.

When an airline selects and buys a certain aircraft, the decision is based on a huge number of factors such as purchase cost, operating cost (hourly and lifetime), number of seats, efficiency (cost per seat mile), etc, etc. They can't just drop that type and substitute an "earlier model from Boeing" or an Airbus product and have those calculations still produce the same result, which you may recall, is to control costs and maximise profits.

Airlines that cancel purchase plans do so because their own financial position has forced a change or because events outside their control have drastically changed their calculations, such as the 1973 oil crisis and 9/11. southwest and the other MAX customers wanted that aircraft because of its cost vs revenue production. Replacing them with the aircraft they were themselves supposed to replace won't work for them or they would have bought more "older Boeings" or Airbuses instead of the MAX in the first place.
chalet 2
You did not understand what I said: neither Boeing as a seller and SW as a client had any idea that the Max 8 was going to be such a source of problems and thus the contract did not have any clauses covering that eventuality, hence SW can walk away from the contract scot free, i.e. no penalties.
Steve Cutchen 1
I'd bet a Dr Pepper that there is a clause in the contract that lets a customer out if Boeing cannot meet their commitment. Certainly the issue was in Boeing's control. The key would be the definition of the commitment. Is it time based?
siriusloon 1
And the ways that could happen are spelled out in detail which means only those reasons allow the contract to be broken. It's not a blanket "get out of your commitments" free pass.

It's also worth remembering that it's been reported in numerous places that Southwest had considerable influence on the MAX, such as the minimal amount of training needed for pilots converting from earlier versions and having it certified as a modified 737 and not as a substantially different aircraft. Southwest might not want to rock the boat with Boeing and have their role in the MAX made widely known.
siriusloon 0
No they can't. It would require a clause specifically allowing them to walk away without penalty. Without that clause, the contract is exactly that: a contract and Southwest would either have to sue Boeing for delivering a defective product and get court approval to break the deal or they would have to unilaterally breech the contract and then fight the inevitable lawsuit from Boeing. Just because you think they should be able to walk away from their commitment in a signed contract without any penalty does not mean they can.
Mike Boster 1
Right, great points. Thanks for the insight.
Lou Pumphrey 0
I can't fly Southwest anymore. I'm 6'8" 350lbs. I have to buy two seats when I fly. From now on, it's JetBlue or American.


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