Southwest Airlines considering adding the Airbus A220
Since 1971, Southwest has had an all Boeing aircraft fleet and 99.99% all Boeing 737 aircraft with the exception of a few Boeing 727s early on.
But since the grounding of the MAX and their aging older 737-700s, Southwest may finally be ready to add a new aircraft type to its fleet. One that sits around 140 - 150 passengers.
“We absolutely do need the smaller airplane,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said during the airlines 3rd quarter earnings on Thursday, Oct. 22. “We have a ton of 737-700s that are coming up for retirement over the next several years.”
With all the expanding Southwest has done with adding service to new airports and returning to old ones, ordering a new plane during a crisis is not necessarily a bad idea. As long as they can support the financial commitment, the companies are often desperate for new deals as orders are scarce and deliveries are slow.
In addition to potential deals, Southwest is anticipating a recovery in air travel over the next two to three years.
Southwest is also evaluating the A220 and 737 MAX 7 and is to place an order for one of those 2, or both, within the next year with deliveries beginning around 2025.
The MAX grounding appears to be what broke the string of SWAs long, exclusive relationship from Boeing. Shortly before the MAX suspension began in March of 2019, CEO Gary Kelly told investors that SWA was not considering alternatives to the Boeing 737. Well, that sure did change fast.
While the split with Boeing remains to happen or not, Southwest’s eye is wandering. “The A220 and MAX 7, they’re the two players in the marketplace,” said Van de Ven, Southwest’s Operations Chief. “Both of those airplanes have their strengths and disadvantages. And we’ve been looking at both planes.”
The A220-300 can fly up to 160 passengers in a single class layout just over 3,900 miles whereas the 737 MAX 7 can carry up to 172 passenger for 4,430 miles.
Although, the A220’s seeming advantages over the MAX 7 may not be enough to persuade Southwest as they are a living example of the benefits of a single fleet.
In my opinion, I think it would be a great addition to Southwest’s fleet. Most of Southwest’s flights are “shuttle like” and a more fuel efficient plane that can carry about the same amount of people to replace SWAs older 737-700s would be a great idea.
Let me know what you think about this below!
Thanks and good night,