Southwest Airlines held a web press conference (with written question submissions the staff can screen in advance–bad idea) on its new 737 MAX order. Here are highlights:
Gary Kelly, CEO
- Only four 737 MAX delivered in 2017. Just 15 the following year. (From press release.)
- Christmas came early to Southwest. [Last time Kelly said that was when he proposed moving from Sea-Tac to Boeing Field in Seattle. Got his head handed to him in the local opposition. Editor.]
- We have seen tremendous advances with technology.
- COO Mike Van der Ven led effort.
- This is coming at just the right time. One of the main challenges we face are high fuel costs. We are very much in need of new technology to reduce the fuel burn and reduce environmental impact.
- This supports our financial strategy.
- Commonality major point.
Jim Albaugh, CEO of BCA.
- [Albaugh looks a lot happier at this press conference than he did at the American Airlines one.]
- Southwest is a special customer and we have a special relationship.
- This is the first definitive agreement we signed. Southwest will get airplane #1 when it rolls off the line in Renton.
- [With Southwest getting only 4 airplanes in 2017, this suggests a late 2017 EIS.–Editor]
- 948 commitments now, projects 1,400-1,500 by the end of next year.
- I don’t have the real thing but I have a model for you and a video.
- [Video shows MAX will winglets, not the oft-speculated raked wingtips.]
- This is largest order in Boeing’s history.
Kevin McAllister, VP Sales and Marketing for GE, representing CFM.
- Southwest formally launches the LEAP-1B.
Mike Van der Ven, COO.
- This allows us to accelerate the retirement of older airplanes.
- Have 150 options to expand as well.
- Our choice guarantees WN a single fleet type well into the next decade.
- 16-18% fuel burn improvement over 737 Classics.
- We’ve been in conversations with Boeing for several years.
- Efficiency improvements allow up to improve without complexity.
- Compared with A320neo and both did the job but 737 MAX was our choice.
- Cost is $1.2bn for all outstanding orders (including those existing before today). Per year.
- Airplanes still being defined.
- 717s in leases 2017-2020+ and will work to see what the alternatives are but will operate through lease terms if we have to.
- Primary factors of fleet commonality and gauge of 737-8 (more seats), lighter airplane vs A320.
- We like the GTF technology but this comes as a package and CFM has millions of flight hours behind it. GE and CFM have been very good in past in delivering products on time and meeting specifications.
Brian Hirshman, SVP Technology, WN
- We did extensive analysis vs A320neo and felt 737 MAX better suited.
- Plane works better at Chicago Midway Airport, among other issues.
- MAX would have to fly the same mission as NG and are satisfied it would do that.
- We wanted as much commonality as we can.
John Hamilton, Boeing 737 chief engineer.
- The airplane is fairly well defined. Will reach final configuration in 2013. It’s well enough known that WN and Boeing had confidence to go forward at this time.
- MAX will have capability to have increased payload-range vs NG.
- Airport performance was important, especially at key airports.
- We will make sure we get Southwest what it wants.
- We both would have liked a new airplane, but when you look at lessons learned [from 787] it was more challenging to bring to market in the timeframe customers wanted.
Chaker Chahrour, EVP CFM
- Core is optimized for MAX for best overall fuel burn.
- We believe we have much more credible technology than GTF. We have tremendous amount of confidence in our technology and at the end of the day it will be the most economical.