At the beginning of 2022 Southwest Airlines anticipated taking delivery of more than 70 new Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft through the year. Seven months into the year, with FAA certification timing still unclear, the carrier revised that number to zero.
[G]iven the current ongoing status of the -7 certification and pace of expected deliveries for the remainder of this year, it is the Company’s assumption that it will receive no -7 aircraft deliveries in 2022, and that the remaining 48 Boeing 737 MAX (MAX) aircraft reflected in its 2022 contractual order book will shift into 2023.Southwest Airlines’ 2022 Q2 10-Q SEC filing
Southwest is still taking new planes, however. In April it entered into an agreement with Boeing in April 2022 to replace the majority of its -7 firm orders with -8 firm orders in the short-term. While not directly reflected in the published order book, the company now anticipates a total of 66 new aircraft deliveries for the full year, all of them in the MAX 8 variant.
So far in 2022 Southwest added 12 new 737 MAX 8 aircraft to its fleet. Ten older aircraft were retired through the same period, leading the company to grow from 728 737s in service at the end of 2021 to 730 at the mid-point in 2022.
During third quarter 2022, Southwest expects to take delivery of 23 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (-8) aircraft and retire 12 Boeing 737-700 (-700) aircraft to end the quarter with 741 aircraft.
During fourth quarter 2022, the Company expects to take delivery of 31 -8 aircraft and retire seven -700 aircraft to end the year with 765 aircraft.
Like the MAX 10, Boeing’s certification progress on the MAX 7 remains unclear. The company still is hoping to complete the work before the end of 2022 when the certification requirements for the flight deck alerting would change. Unlike the MAX 10, however, the CEO has not (yet?) threatened to pull the plug on the program if Congress doesn’t grant an(other) extension on the new rules.
In the interim, Southwest’s fleet will grow slightly more than previously planned in terms of seats per plane, but much slower in terms of total planes. The carrier previously expected to operate 814 planes by the end of the year, 49 more than the current plan.
Southwest currently holds firm orders for 276 MAX 7s and 145 MAX 8s, with deliveries planned for the next ten years. It holds options for an additional 211 planes of either variant over six years.
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