Lion Air takes delivery of Boeing’s first 737-9 MAX

Lion Air took delivery today of the first Boeing 737-9 MAX that will go into revenue service. Leeham News photo.

March 21, 2018, © Leeham News: Lion Air, the low-cost carrier with several affiliates throughout Asia, took delivery of the first Boeing 737-9 MAX today at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Thai Lion will operate the airplane.

Lion Air was the launch customer of the Boeing 737-900ER and it is a launch customer of the 737-9. The airline has more than 100 737-900ERs and more than 80 737-800s. It ordered 201 737 MAX 8/9s and 50 more 737-10 MAXes.

Neither Lion Air nor Boeing have specified how many MAXes are the 8 or 9 models. If the MAX order is pro-rated proportionally with the NG orders, about 110 may be destined to be the 9 MAX.

This should bring the MAX 9 order book to about 360. United Airlines canceled an order for 100 9 MAXes in favor of the 10 MAX when this program was launched at the Paris Air Show last year.

Low-Cost Carrier growth

Dinesh Keskar, SVP Sales for Asia-Pacific and India, said that Asia is the “home” for low-cost carriers and the MAX 9 will contribute to the growth in the region.

Lion Capt. Darsito Hendro Seputro said the 9 MAX delivered today is Thai Lion’s 32nd aircraft.

Dinesh Keskar of Boeing and Capt. Darsito Hendro Seputro of Lion Air. Leeham News photo.

“This is a huge deal,” Dinesh said in a press scrum after the delivery ceremony. “Lion has been has bought over 280 MAXes. (Note: Dinesh reported (and repeated) orders for 280 MAXes from Lion Air, in contrast to 201 firm orders and 50 commitments that have been announced. This suggests there are about 30 MAXes more ordered.—Editor.) Lion also ordered the 787 for long-haul, low-cost service.

“In Southeast Asia, the growth for the LCCs is very high,” Dinesh said. “This market is so big for us and Lion Air is flying the flag for us. We’re so pleased they are taking the world’s first MAX 9.”

Dinesh said the MAX 9 is 14% more fuel efficient than the -900ER.

56 Comments on “Lion Air takes delivery of Boeing’s first 737-9 MAX

  1. Glad to hear about the Max-9 but it and the Max-10 have a looooooooong way to go before matching sales of the A321NEO. IMHO, it won’t be close in the end. The A321NEO is such as exceptional plane. Its almost the same of comparing the B77W to the A346…not even close.

    • Who’s talking about A321neo here? Boeing has just delivered the first Boeing 737-9 MAX to Lion Air, let them savour the moment.

      • Share your view, but was the 737-9 not launched “out of panic” for the 321 competition?

        If launched with the MAX10’s upgrades could have been a very interesting and capable aircraft within the LEAP1-B’s thrust limitations?

        • The 737-900/9 has been a stand alone staple for some time.

          Its not an A321, it was not intended to be. My Passat may be the closest I have to an Indy car, but I am sure not racing it in the Indy 500.

          As a derivative, with the numbers its sold it, its a very nice addition to the family. Not a killer one, but then the 757-300 was not the end all for the 757 either.

          Ak Airlines likes them a lot as well.

          Boeing heaped some gasoline on that fire by saying the 900/9 were A321 competitors but that was laughable enough they came out with the -10 which is closer.

          • IMHO it (and of course the MAX10) is a competitor to the A321NEO. I see the B738MAX as the competitor to the A320NEO.

          • Wasn’t there a previous post a few months ago, in which you were making the point that your passat could race the Indy 500?

        • @Anton:
          “..was the 737-9 not launched “out of panic” for the 321 competition?”
          1. Nope it wasn’t. It’s simply an upgrade of the 739ER already in production for yrs under the Max program banner which included the Max9 all along since Max program launch.
          2. If there was a “panic” for the 321Neo competition, the response is the Max10 launched last yr.
          3. Was the 330Neo not launched “out of panic” for the 787 competition?

          • Agree. Want to see AB’s panic response to the 797, hopefully something more conclusive.

          • @FLX

            If the A330neo had been launched “out of panic”, Airbus would probably have launched it shortly after the 787 was launched in April, 2004 — i.e. no A350 Mk-1 etc.

            Watching Boeing faltering on the 787, while the A330ceo sold handily, Airbus
            could safely wait until the 787 engine technologies were more mature. Therefore, they didn’t have to make a decision whether or not to launch a new “neo” version for another decade.

          • A bit of trying to re-write history.

            Airbus did panic, they just ran in circles for a while because they had nothing in the quiver to response to the rain of 787 arrows. 787 was nothing short of brilliant.

            Sometimes not being able to do anything though works out fine (or well). In this case Boeing shot themselves in the foot hugely. Well more like taking a MAC-10 (tin y machine gun) and milling the whole foot off.

            Airbus response was driven to the Rev 4 or 5 of the A350 all new.

            There was still interest in an A330NEO and the engines were there for it (have to see how they do still)

            But its not had a great success so far and Air Asia with the biggest lump of orders is waffling as usual.

            Big difference on we had it figured out all along and it was a part of the strategy.

            What Airbus does on the NMA is driven by the same issue Boeing had with the A320NEO. They panicked and did the MAX.

            If they had gotten their act together Boeing would have had a 737RS already rolling and it would have garnered all the attention.

            In that case, Airbus walloped Boeing big time. And while there are some issues, there are nothing like the 787 issues so the NEO was and is a huge success. (putting it mildly, like France beating Brazil 10-0 in football

          • @TransWorld

            Well, Brazil was beaten 7-1 by Germany in the last WC.


            For sure, the 787 started out brilliantly with respect to marketing strategy (i.e. “Dreamliner” etc.). However, initial performance estimates for the 787 were complete pie in the sky marketing BS (i.e. Manufacturer Weight Empty (MWE) estimates etc.)

            As the “tremendous drug-like rush*” of the Dreamliner completely took hold among Boeing cheerleaders and quite a few analysts, the engineering intelligence unit at Airbus was busy crafting a comprehensive competitive analysis that touched on nearly every aspect of the 787 programme — gleaned from Boeing proprietary data and sources inside the 787’s supply chain. The dossier** examined key design, weight, engine, certification, production and schedule issues that was facing the 787 programme. What was quite remarkable about the document is that it gave a far sharper and more accurate briefing as to the state of the program up until mid 2008 than had ever publicly been released by Boeing.

            Claiming, therefore, that Airbus was panicking and running around in circles, sounds rather hollow. Behind the scenes Airbus new much more about the status of 787 programme than what they let on.

            What is true, though, is that if the MWE of the 787-9 had been 10-plus tonnes lower — as Boeing was aiming for at the time of the launch of the 787 programe in April, 2004 — the A330-900neo would not have had a chance in hell competing with the 787-9. Perhaps, if you would have stopped drinking the kool-aid at the high point of the tremendous drug-like rush atmosphere (i.e. 787 rollout on 07/08/07), you’d have long since realised that fact, as well.



          • OV-099:

            Thank you for sharing the PDF link.

            And while the word panic is too strong and wrong, the 787 did stun Airbus.

            Like good engineers, they pulled themselves together and began to offer solutions.

            Or the management asked them for solutions and they were offered up.

            Each time a revamped A330 was rejected.

            In the end, they did offer up the A350. I don’t think they were even sure the frame and skin thing would work, little research in the world and Airbus was clearly asleep at the wheel (and it happens to everyone, not a knock on Airbus )

            I would describe the sitauti9on more in line with Air Combat in what John Boyd came up with that if you can get inside the opponents decision process OODA ), you can knock him out.

            Boeing did indeed achieve that, but they forgot you have to load your guns as well and flamed out.

            There clearly was no well crafted response until the A350 and even that was a take what we have available as opposed to something they had in the tool set.

            Kudos to Airbus engineers they not only got it to work but as competitive as a spun fuselage. That is one heck of an accomplishment. I tip my hat to them.

            But they were on the back feet, the A330NEO came along latter after Hazy left his Lease Firm (sold it?) and began to agitate for it along with Air Asia and Delta.

            So not the A330NEO was not a fully planned part of the response.

            That’s not a knock, Boeing started out with the Sonic Cruiser and it wound up being the 787.

            The 777 started out as a engine design and went through a lot of iterations before it settled in on what would sell.

            If you forecast that in advance, then yes you are brilliant,

            When you look back and fabricate a different story that’s fiction.

            Few if any projects start out as a bright stroke of genius, for the most part they shift and move and evolve and if they come to daylight, its as a result of a lot of past history, not a brilliant plan that did exactly what you thought it would.

            I believe it was Clausewitz that said “no plan survive contact with the enemy”

            Boeing went on to get their face rubbed in the dirt with the A320NEO when they so brilliantly had Airbus boxed in.

            The Max 10 was a result of some very great egg on their face (or stunned as well)

      • @Mario…I did mention I’m glad to hear about it..:–)

        I’m also hoping to see a lot of sales of the MAX9 and MAX10 but I’m a bit skeptical of MAX9 sales moving forward.

        • @jacobin777:
          “I’m a bit skeptical of MAX9 sales moving forward.”
          Agreed. It’s gonna sit in a tiny sliver of mkt niche between Max8 and Max10. I suspect most Max9 customers are still taking delivery mostly because:
          a) They are already too far along in terms of production commitment.
          b) Frames have very close-in delivery dates so too late to convert.
          c) Can’t wait for Max10 cert due to high rate of near-term capacity growth already planned e.g. Lion Air group.

          I expect over 90s% of all upcoming Max sales will be for either Max8/200 or Max10.

      • Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have let Boeing/Lion Air have its day so LNC isn’t accused of being a mouthpiece for Boeing….

        • Regarding: “United Airlines canceled an order for 100 9 MAXes in favor of the 10 MAX when this program was launched at the Paris Air Show last year.”

          A question for Mr. Hamilton or anyone else who may have a definitive source – how many orders does United have left for 737-9’s? I see two different figures cited in different sources, either 35 or 61.

          On Wikipedia, the 737 MAX orders and deliveries page says that United has 35 737-9’s on order, while the Wikipedia United Airlines fleet page says that United has 61 737-9’s on order and lists Boeing’s orders and deliveries page as of 11-2016 as a reference. When I just checked, the Boeing orders and deliveries page said that United had a total of 135 737-MAX orders with no breakdown by type. The 3-1-18 FlightGlobal article at the link below says that “United has firm orders for 61 737-9s and 100 -10s”.

          I thought it was interesting that according to the article at the above link, United will be configuring its 737-9’s with 179 seats, the same number of seats that it installed on it 737-900ER’s. This is only and 7 more seats than American Airlines is putting on its 737-8’s. This compares to configurations of 154 to 166 seats that United currently uses on its 737-800’s, and 160 seats that American currently uses on its 737-800’s, according to the Wikipedia fleet page for each airline. Southwest’s single class 737-8 seating configuration has 175 seats, only 2 more than American’s 2.5 class 737-8 configuration, and 4 less than United’s 2.5 class 737-9 configuration. Each airline seems to be pursuing a somewhat different strategy as to how to allocate legroom among passengers, what food service to provide, and how tiny to make the toilets?

          • Ooops – Math mistake: Southwest’s single class 737-8 configuration has 3 more, not 2 more seats, than American’s 2.5 class 737-8 configuration.

            Southwest 737-8: 175 seats.
            American 737-8: 172 seats.

            (175-172) seats = 3 seats

          • UAL’s 10Q for 3Q2017 lists 161 MAX orders. We know 100 are MAX 10s. I don’t believe there are any MAX 8s.

        • Following are the contents of slide number 17 (page 18) from a presentation given by United Airlines Senior VP Gerry Laderman on 2-27-18 at a J.P. Morgan High Yield (aka Junk Bond) and Leveraged Finance Conference (see link below). My understanding of this slide is that as of 2-27-18 Mr. Laderman believed that United’s 737-9 order was for 737-9’s x 61 and 737-10’s x 100; however, as of a few minutes ago, Boeing’s orders and deliveries page indicates that as of 2-28-18 United had a total of 135 orders for 737 MAX aircraft.

          “>United placed original order for 100 737 MAX 9 aircraft in 2012.

          >Order for 65 737-700 in 2016 would eventually be converted to 61 737 MAX 9 + 4 737-800.

          >At the time of the order, the MAX 9 was the largest family variant at 179-seats in United’s configuration.

          >In 2016, United teamed up with Boeing on the development of a stretched version of the MAX 9.
          -Initial concerns around takeoff performance, landing approach speeds, and range detriments.

          >Boeing launched the MAX 10 in 2017, and United became a launch customer by converting 100 MAX 9.

          >The MAX 10 achieves superior economics over the MAX 9.
          -The MAX 10 will have ~10 more seats, reducing unit costs and increasing revenue opportunities.
          -The MAX 10 will have similar takeoff performance, with only ~300 nm less range.

          • In my post above, the following sentence:

            “My understanding of this slide is that as of 2-27-18 Mr. Laderman believed that United’s 737-9 order was for 737-9’s x 61 and 737-10’s x 100; however, as of a few minutes ago, Boeing’s orders and deliveries page indicates that as of 2-28-18 United had a total of 135 orders for 737 MAX aircraft.”

            should have instead been as follows.

            My understanding of this slide is that as of 2-27-18 Mr. Laderman believed that United’s 737 MAX order was for 737-9’s x 61 and 737-10’s x 100; however, as of a few minutes ago, Boeing’s orders and deliveries page indicates that as of 2-28-18 United had a total of 135 orders for 737 MAX aircraft.

        • Don’t worry Scott, it’s been quite a few years since you have been credibly accused of that.

          It is hard not to see the Max 9 as a lost cause that wouldn’t have happened if they had just went with the 737-10 in its place from the get-go. I suspect this variant will become difficult to finance.


          • Yes, once the -10 i s certified the -9 values will drop unless they revise it with the -10 MLG and revise the wing/wingbox to increase payload/range even further like with API winglets, The -9 can pretty easy tip on its tail while loading the aft cargo compartment so the -10 MLG will do good.

          • I disagree. The 900/9 seems to fit some operations and its a low cost stretch of the -8, not like it cost what the -10 does to mfg.

            Nice adjunct, not a killer seller by itself but cost free pretty much as well.

        • @Scott Hamilton:
          “…so LNC isn’t accused of being a mouthpiece for Boeing…”
          But LNC was already accused of being a mouthpiece for Airbus yesterday re 330Neo range improvements announced by Airbus.

          Reading some comments here are like watching a comedy….produced by kindergarten kids….

        • With respect, you’ve got to be kidding Scott. No one is reasonably going to consider you a BA mouthpiece or fanboy!

          • Just tells you there are some very unreasonable people out there.

            Not as much a surprise as it used to be.

            “The World Turned Upside Down ” indeed.

        • Can’t win, Mr. Hamilton. Instead, just bask in the limelight as you let all the attention wash over you like nice mid-Summer sunlight at the beach.

      • @Mario:
        Interestingly, your comment immediately reminds me of how quickly folks were putting down counterpoints made by others on 330Neo vs 787 yesterday under a diff topic…

        Double standards apply depending on which camp folks are sitting in I guess….

    • @jocobin777:
      “the Max-9 but it and the Max-10 have a looooooooong way to go before matching sales of the A321NEO.”
      If we replace the word “Max-9” and “Max-10” with 330Neo and replace the word “321NEO” with “789” in your sentence, it’ll possibly be equally valid as your original statement re relative sales.

      • I would say they will never get there..

        The 10 being the closest to an actual competitor and even its still not fully there, close enough maybe for a common fleet (sort of)

        I still think the -9 is a nice addition if you don’t think of it as anything other than a way to upgauge in between the -8 and -10.

        • @TransWorld:
          Seriously, there’s just not much mkt space there to justify a Max9 investment by customers. Seat count in max/LCC style density:
          Max8=210(Yes, I’m talking about that bird branded as Max200 but actually is a Max8)

          Less than 5%(or 10seats) diff in Rev$ opportunity separate each gauge. That’s on par with splitting hair if a customer must hv a Max9 but not Max8 or Max10 instead. Carriers routinely bump 10 pax off(fm normal waiting list or UA3411-style) or fly 10 empty seats anyway on a large narrowbody.

  2. I guess I get to say this first, it is so totally bogus, Airbus is not even mentioned!

    The Humanity, oh the Humanity!!!!!!

    • Just so we can include Airbus, what are they going to do with the 178 A320 an AA21NEO?

      I think they cancelled the A320CEO they had ordered. Some of the NEO

      I hope this is not a tropical depression on Boeing’s day in the sun!@

      side note: It looks like they took 13 A320 and are not operating them, so leased to?

      • @Transworld:
        “I think they cancelled the A320CEO they had ordered”
        They did not. All or most are already deployed @ their Batik air brand replacing, surprise!, 737NGs.

        I believe U are confused because U think Lion Air and Lion Air group are identical. For folks unfamiliar with Lion Air group(or Indonesian airline industry in general), it can be hard to understand/follow their fleet type deposition across diff brands.

        “It looks like they took 13 A320 and are not operating them..”
        Lion Air group has a habit of not only frequently swapping around fleet type across their brands but also @ very last minute.

    • @TransWorld:
      “I guess I get to say this first, it is so totally bogus, Airbus is not even mentioned!”
      I broke into laughter when I read your comment.

      When Lion Air group takes 1st delivery of 320Neo, I wonder who gets to say this first:
      It is so totally bogus, Boeing is not even mentioned in a 320Neo delivery story!

      • Thank you, I do like good laughs. Calling Leeham biased is like accusing them of being Communist.

          • Scott: No, that just means you are one of those damned pinko socialists, which a commie in training but not there.

            Or in reality, probably a mix of progressive and conservative (or whatever they are these days) that parties don’t reflect.

          • @Scott Hamilton:
            Ah…that’s a very very thin line there I can see.

  3. But but but…??
    Where are the pundits saying Lion will never ever work? The Lion orders are all bogus ??!! and because some (#}%^* airline in the UK did not survive into bankruptcy so will never Lion do either??

    I must be drinking too much palm wine or Koutoukou (look it up :-))

    • Ok maybe a bit of German syntax up there. I get all so confused. Apologies. Am sure you get it.

    • Serious question, apart from the A320 order, which doesn’t seem to make much sense, why are people so negative about Lion Air’s future?
      And I’m wondering about the same question for Air Asia.

      • @Julian: The Airbus order is for Lion Air’s leasing company. The viability of Lion Air group comes from over-ordering and over-expansion, with financials that are unknown to outsiders since this is a private company–but which in aviation circles indicate a stretched balance sheet. AirAsia, which reports public financials, clearly was out-driving its headlights. The sale of its leasing portfolio helps boost that financial situation.

        • Thanks.
          I thought it might have been because people would underestimate the size of Air Asia and Lion Air because they wouldn’t include the joint ventures and subsidiaries of Air Asia and Lion Air.

      • Dinesh might be right…Lion Air had at one point 787 or order but was quickly cancelled when the airline realized the A330 suits better for LCC.

        • @Skywalker:

          “The airline realized the A330 suits better for LCC.”

          I could’ve sworn Jetstar, Scoot and Norwegian are LCC’s…silly me!

          • Jetstar and Scoot are part of ‘national carriers’, who had ordered 787s as well ( especially during the early days when prices were especially low). Bulk orders get higher discounts too.
            Norwegian is the outlier there

          • @Skywalker:
            “The airline realized the A330 suits better for LCC.”
            “I could’ve sworn Jetstar, Scoot and Norwegian are LCC’s…silly me!”

            Even more spectacular in the case of JetStar: They swapped 330s for 787s despite “A330 suits better for LCC”.

            May be JetStar, among the early LCC pioneers in Asia-Pcf region, purposely pick a type that suits worse for LCC in order to commit commercial suicide….

            I hope by now we realize:
            1. There’s such a thing known as different horse for different course.
            2. LCCs operating widebodies do live in various diff mkt habitats.

          • @dukeofurl:
            “Jetstar and Scoot are part of ‘national carriers’”
            That’s a joke, isn’t it? Otherwise, pls kindly define “national carriers”.

            If it means gov’t ownership, either direct or indirect(e.g. thru gov’t investment corp like Temasek vis-a-vis SQ), @ least Jetstar and its parent seriously fail to match such definition.

            “…who had ordered 787s”
            Pls kindly explain the connection/causation/implication between any 787 order with any “national carrier”.

            “Bulk orders get higher discounts too.”
            Thx for reminding us about such discount in which both SQ group(Scoot’s parent) and QF group(Jetstar’s parent) hv taken advantage of for acquiring their 330Ceo fleets. Each of these groups operate @ least 28 frames of 330 @ peak….when QF group today in contrast, still hv less than 20 firm order commitments for 787.

            Sorry about the inconvenient facts working against your justifications re why 787 is @ JetStar and Scoot.

            “Norwegian is the outlier there”
            Another inconvenient fact.

        • @Skywalker:
          “..Lion Air had at one point 787 or order but was quickly cancelled when the airline realized the A330 suits better for LCC.”
          Let try this alternate theory based on the existing local Indonesian airline industry landscape:
          787 was quickly cancelled when the airline realized that qualified(let alone experienced) 787 flight crew is and will remain much much much harder to recruit fm within Indonesia/ASEAN(nearly mandatory to apply for any int’l route authority which these 787s are intended for in the 1st place) than 330 flight crew.

          Heck, even qualified 777 pilots, whom can do quick qualification transition to 787, are harder to source in Indonesia/ASEAN than qualified 330 pilots.

  4. Airbus quaking in their boots as the A321 slayer finally enters service. I now expect 0 A321s to be sold after this.

  5. I assume most that bash the 737MAX9 have’nt done real analysis of it versus the -8. The -9 OEW is around 2300 kgs heavier than the -8’s. However its MZFW is 5040 kg higher, and the MTOW is 6120 kg higher than that of the -8. Hence its “useful load” (payload+fuel) is around 3700 kg higher than the -8. Thus in reality, the -9 has greater payload range than the -8, assuming 18 more seats.
    However the -10 adds very little to the -9 capabilities and would best serve on shorter sectors.

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