America's Southwest Airlines has agreed to buy a hundred 737 Max from Boeing, the largest order for the jet since it was grounded in 2019 over two fatal crashes. Southwest Airlines and Boeing reached an agreement on 100 firm orders for MAX 7 aircraft, the first 30 of which are scheduled to be delivered in 2022. Southwest said the order underscores the company’s commitment to the continued modernisation of its fleet by bringing fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft. But for Boeing, the deal means a chance to clear nearly 800 jets that were cancelled following the grounding of its 737 Max aircraft.
“Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success. Today's commitment to the 737 MAX solidifies our continued appreciation for the aircraft and confirms our plans to offer the Boeing 737 series of aircraft to our Employees and Customers for years to come. We are proud to continue our tradition of being the world's largest operator of an all-Boeing fleet,” Gary Kelly, Southwest's CEO said in a statement.
According to CNN, Southwest may have secured a bargain while negotiating the deal with Boeing because of the repeated cancellation of orders from multiple clients following the two crashes. Gary Kelly had been critical of Boeing following the grounding of its aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Earlier, Kelly had even suggested buying aircraft from Airbus, which would have caused a serious dent in Boeing’s reputation in the global market given that the Southwest has been an all-Boeing airline for the past five decades.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had banned Boeing’s 737 Max from flying as an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the two crashes. In March 2019, the Boeing 737 Max passenger airliner was grounded worldwide after 346 people died in two crashes which came within five months. Lion Air Flight 610 crashed on October 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Ethiopian Airlines immediately grounded its remaining 737 Max fleet.