Southwest is the latest carrier to reconsider its fleet plans as Boeing faces mounting scrutiny for the 737 Max.
Southwest Airlines is removing the Boeing 737 Max 7 from its 2024 fleet plans due to certification delays.
In a filing on Thursday morning, Southwest said it had 79 aircraft on order for 2024, and was removing the Max 7 from those plans because of “Boeing’s continued supply chain challenges and the current status of the -7 certification.”
The carrier is the latest to rethink its fleet strategy as Boeing has drawn the ire of airline executives over the certification delays and the weeks-long grounding of the Max 9.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in a call with analysts on Tuesday that the company was taking out the Max 10, the largest model in the Max family, from its fleet plan because it did not expect the planes to be delivered on time in 2024. The Chicago-based carrier had around 235 Max 10s on order, according to Cirium Diio.
The Max 7 — the smallest variant of the 737 Max — and largest Max 10 have faced years-long certification delays. And now, their certification timeline is unclear after the Federal Aviation Administration halted the production expansion of the 737 Max in order to closely inspect Boeing’s production and quality processes.
The federal agency did, however, clear the way for airlines operating the Max 9 to return the aircraft to service. United and Alaska Airlines, the only two U.S. carriers that fly the plane, expected the Max 9 to be back in service within the next few days.
Southwest posted its fourth quarter earnings Thursday morning and is set to hold an earnings call at 11:30 a.m. ET.
The carrier posted a loss of $219 million and operating revenues of a record $6.8 billion for the fourth quarter. For the full year, Southwest reported revenues of $26.1 billion and a net income of $498 million.
Southwest said in its earnings statement that it saw healthy leisure demand throughout 2023 and end-of-the-year bookings were at the better end of expectations.
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