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Southwest Airlines Now Expects Only Half Of Its Boeing 737 Deliveries Amidst Crisis

Instead of 46 Boeing 737 MAX, Southwest Airlines could take delivery of only around 20 in 2024, according to sources.


Southwest Airlines is expecting significantly fewer Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as the plane maker continues struggling to deal with the fallout of the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 incident, when a door plug blew out, which happened in January 2024.


Less than half of planned aircraft deliveries

In an exclusive report by Reuters, sources familiar with the matter have indicated that the airline is preparing to take delivery of 20 aircraft instead of the 46 Boeing 737 MAXs that it anticipated earlier in the year, which would significantly reduce its planned capacity or would force the carrier to retain older and less fuel-efficient aircraft.

 

According to ch-aviation data, Southwest Airlines currently has a fleet of 820 aircraft, split between 385 Boeing 737-700, 207 Boeing 737-800, and 228 Boeing 737 MAXs, with 17, 13, and two aircraft of the type being inactive, respectively.


Meanwhile, Boeing’s orders & delivery data showed that as of March 31, 2024, Southwest Airlines has 482 unfilled 737 MAX orders. While the manufacturer’s data does specify the exact type of 737 MAXs that the carrier is anticipating, ch-aviation showed that Southwest Airlines has 490 aircraft in its backlog. The number is split between 307 Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 138 Boeing 737 MAX 8.


Sole manufacturer of the company’s aircraft

In its annual report to shareholders – different than the company's annual financial report – filed to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 5, Southwest Airlines outlined that one of its operational risks was that it was,


“[…] dependent on Boeing as the sole manufacturer of the Company’s aircraft. If the MAX aircraft were to become unavailable for the Company’s operations, or if the Company were to experience prolonged delivery delays of MAX aircraft, the Company’s business plans, strategies, and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.”


In the same report, the company said that it was still anticipating 79 737 MAX deliveries in 2024, which was already less than the contractual order book “due to Boeing’s continued supply chain challenges and the current status of the -7 certification.” Still, the airline also stated that it was scheduled to take delivery of the 737 MAX 7 – also known as -7 – in 2024.


Updated guidance on deliveries

However, in an update to investors filed with the SEC on March 12, the carrier was forced to slash expected deliveries in 2024, with Boeing informing Southwest Airlines that it should expect 46 737 MAX 8 aircraft during the year and no 737 MAX 7s. Its previous expectation was that it would receive 79 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft: 21 737 MAX 7 and 58 737 MAX 8.

  “Further, the Company now assumes no 737-7 ("-7") aircraft deliveries and continues to assume no -7 aircraft are placed into service this year based on the current certification status.”

As Boeing continues to deal with the fallout of the Alaska Airlines incident, when a Boeing 737 MAX 9’s door plug blew out as the aircraft was climbing out of Portland International Airport (PDX), its delivery numbers have dropped. In Q4 2023, Boeing delivered 107 737 MAX aircraft, while in Q1 2024, the manufacturer delivered 66 aircraft of the type, including five to Southwest Airlines.



This article originally appeared on Simple Flying

Image source: Robin Guess | Shutterstock

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