Southwest Airlines had a challenging 2022, including an IT system meltdown during a major storm that stranded many travelers. But that isn’t the only challenge Southwest faces. Their next challenge is taking delivery of the long-overdue 737 MAX 7 to replace the 737-700, the mainstay of their fleet.
The following chart shows the recent evolution of Southwest’s fleet. The carrier has been taking about one new 737 MAX 8 per week over the last two years while waiting for the plane it wants, the MAX 7. Congressional legislation eliminated a requirement for a new crew alerting system that would have gone into effect in late December 2022, and the 737 MAX 7 is now on track for certification in mid-2023. This is not a moment too soon for Southwest, which wants the smaller MAX. Their existing 737-700 fleet is aging, averaging 17.7 years, and has rising maintenance costs. Southwest needs deliveries of the MAX 7 as soon as possible.
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