Boeing’s 737 MAX 7 takes a hit from Southwest

Southwest Airlines Max 7 - 737 Artwork by Boeing

The 737 MAX 7 is not particularly popular and today’s announcement by Southwest likely won’t help. Just hours after the second 737 MAX 7 fuselage arrived in the Seattle-area for its spot on the assembly line the type got some bad news. Some 23 of the type scheduled for delivery to Southwest Airlines in 2019-2020 are being pushed out 4 years. At the same time, Southwest announced that it will take more MAX 8 aircraft in 2019-2020.

Southwest also is increasing its fleet investment with its longtime business partner, Boeing, to support future growth opportunities and fleet modernization at favorable economics. The Company exercised 40 Boeing 737 MAX 8 options for 15 firm orders in 2019 and 25 firm orders in 2020, and deferred 23 Boeing 737 MAX 7 firm orders from 2019 through 2021 to 12 firm orders in 2023 and 11 firm orders in 2024. The Company’s 2018 available seat mile growth plans remain unchanged.

Southwest is the largest 737 MAX 7 customer and one of scant few airlines committed to the type. Only WestJet joins it with a significant (20+) airframe order and Boeing has fewer than 60 total orders on its books. Compared to the 4,000+ total 737 MAX aircraft committed that’s a tiny number for the type. It also raises further questions about Boeing’s competitive position with Bombardier with the CSeries. Even with only 300ish aircraft ordered (and some of those, like the 40 for Republic, are unlikely to be delivered) the CSeries is beating the 737 MAX 7 handily in the 100-150 seat market.

Read More: Bombardier, Delta lose in Boeing subsidy claims case

Of course, that 50-seat range is a big part of the legal battle between Boeing and Bombardier right now. Boeing sees its now 138-seat version of the MAX7 (it was stretched 2 years ago to add an extra 2 rows/12 seats) as competing directly with the 110-seat CS100. That’s a tough position to support in many ways. Thus far, however, Boeing proved successful in defending that position at various hearings. Bombardier faces a ~300% tariff on the type for US sales assuming the ruling expected in February is against the company.

Header image: Southwest 737 MAX 7 rendering from Boeing

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Maybe Boeing will just kill off the Max 7. With so low orders it seem to be the common sense thing to do.

  2. yea not overly surprisingly. the writing has already been on the wall for quite some time for both 7-max as well as 319neo (still hanging by the thread). And for that exact reason, both Airbus and Boeing are so afraid of the E2 and C-Series for their potential, and have decided to essentially gobble them up before either becomes too much of an actual threat. Bombardier had to sell to Airbus just for survival but I don’t see why Embraer necessarily should give themselves away.

    and speaking of E-jets, it really highlights how ridiculous the US airline system is in which pilots control what planes the airline could order (via arduous scope clauses) instead of letting the plane that best fits the route and mission profile win (case in point – the E195 proliferates globally except in the US). Same thing with the seating configs on the E75’s – none of them is putting 9F there out of the kindness of their hearts, but merely a stupid scope clause restriction that makes that plane mainline if you switch the 3rd row of 3 F into 4 Y seats.

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