DALLAS - Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) has taken delivery of its first Boeing Co. 737 Max jetliner, making the Dallas-based company the first North American carrier for the quieter, more fuel-efficient plane.
The first Southwest Max landed at Dallas Love Field on Tuesday, but the company canceled an employee celebration to mark the occasion in Dallas because of the devastation in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Boeing, the Southwest pilot’s union and others tweeted about the initial Max’s arrival in Dallas.
The Max has smashed sales records at Chicago-based Boeing (NYSE: BA). The plane entered the commercial market in May with Malaysia-based Malindo Airways.
Check out this slide show for images and details about the Max rollout, as well as Boeing and Southwest.
The Max is a narrow-body jetliner series developed by Boeing as the successor to the 737 Next Generation series. It’s the fourth generation of the 737 family, with the main changes being the use of the larger and more efficient LEAP-1B engines, split-tip winglets and modifications to the airframe.
Southwest expects to take delivery of eight more Max aircraft in September and plans to launch nine Max aircraft into revenue service throughout its network on Oct. 1. Southwest has ordered 200 of the Max planes.
“After 46 years of unprecedented success, Southwest Airlines has a lot more to do and a lot more places to go," said Gary Kelly, the carrier’s chairman and CEO. "Today, we have the airplane to take us there.”
The Max “opens a new chapter of efficiency, reliability and comfort to the Southwest fleet," Kelly added in a statement on Wednesday, "and its increased range allows us to take our low fares even farther.”
Southwest has selected its original Texas trio of cities — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — for the new jetliner's inaugural route.
The new planes will use 20 percent less fuel than the older 737 jets that Southwest is retiring.
The new planes also are quieter, which will be welcome news for residents and businesses near Dallas Love Field, where Southwest dominates with 90 percent of boardings and has been rapidly adding flights.
Kelly has said the 737 Max, because of its increased range, could make about a half dozen South American destinations feasible.
In the big picture, Southwest is following the worldwide market trend. A commercial aviation market forecast from Boeing shows strong demand to replace older and less fuel-efficient airplanes between now and 2032.
Of 35,280 new airplanes to be delivered worldwide by 2032, about 24,670 will be single-aisled aircraft with 90 to 230 seats, such as the 737 MAX series, Boeing’s forecast shows.
Meanwhile, Fort Worth-based American Airlines (Nasdaq: AAL) will base its first Boeing 737 Max at its Miami International airport hub, with plans to enter new markets and replace other aircraft.
The carrier will take advantage of the range and fuel efficiency to "open new markets and improve our performance in certain markets" from Miami, American said in an employee newsletter on Aug. 17.
American previously announced that it will debut the 737 Max on flights between Miami and New York La Guardia on Nov. 29.
The airline expects to take delivery of four of the planes by the end of the year with the first due in September. American will take six more in 2018 and has 100 aircraft on order.
Copyright 2016 Dallas Business Journal