Southwest Airlines has become the launch customer for Boeing’s 737 MAX after becoming the first airline to sign a contract for the re-engined 737 with a firm order for 150.
The Dallas based carrier, which has also ordered 58 Next-Generations 737s, will be the first airline to place the MAX into service, in 2017. With a total book value of US$19 billion, Boeing said the deal was the largest firm order in its history both by volume and value, the third time it has trumpeted a new sales record in the last month.
“Southwest is a special Boeing customer and has been a true partner in the evolution of the 737,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Jim Albaugh. “Throughout our 40 year relationship, our two companies have collaborated to launch the 737-300, 737-500 and the Next-Generation 737-700 – affirming the 737 as the world’s preferred single-aisle airplane. As launch customer for the 737 MAX, Southwest, Boeing and the 737 continue that legacy.”
Powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Boeing claims the 737 MAX will reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions by 10-12 per cent over current single aisle aircraft. Including the Southwest deal, Boeing has won orders and commitments for more than 900 of the aircraft from 13 customers.
The 737 MAX is competing with the Airbus A320neo, which is scheduled to begin delivery in 2015. Airbus says the A320neo has won more than 1500 orders and commitments since it was announced last year.