Southwest Airlines says it is adding to its order for the smallest 737 MAX model by an additional 34 aircraft, citing an improvement in travel demand.
According to Seeking Alpha Southwest’s plan to exercise options to increase its firm orders of 737 MAX 7 planes will raise its order book for the plane to 234 total.
The airline also has orders for 149 MAX 8 aircraft to be delivered through 2031, as it retires older 737s.
Both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines increased their Boeing MAX orders in recent months.
In late March Southwest Airlines ordered up to 255 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft – made up of 100 firm orders and 155 options.
Southwest said at the time that it had completed the multi-year evaluation of the successor aircraft to its Boeing 737-700 model, with the selection of the Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft. The first 30 are scheduled to be delivered in 2022.
As part of the agreement, Southwest also converted 70 MAX 8 firm orders to MAX 7 firm orders and added 155 MAX options for MAX 7 or MAX 8 aircraft for the years 2022 through 2029.
The airline said that the order book additions and revisions result in a new total of 349 MAX firm orders (200 MAX 7 and 149 MAX 8) and 270 MAX options for MAX 7 or MAX 8 aircraft for the years 2021 through 2031.
Southwest said it expects delivery of 28 MAX 8 aircraft in total this year (19 from Boeing and 9 from third-party lessors), as well as 17 737-700 retirements, ending 2021 with 69 MAX 8 aircraft and 729 total aircraft.
Southwest said that the announcement “reinforces the Company’s confidence in the 737 MAX as the future of the Southwest fleet. This cost-effective order book with Boeing allows the Company to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network.”
The airline was the launch customer of the MAX 8 and is scheduled to be the launch Customer of the MAX 7 after also launching prior 737 generations, including the -300, -500, and -700 series.
“Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success. Today’s commitment to the 737 MAX solidifies our continued appreciation for the aircraft and confirms our plans to offer the Boeing 737 series of aircraft to our Employees and Customers for years to come,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to continue our tradition of being the world’s largest operator of an all-Boeing fleet.”