Boeing 737 MAX in-service fleet rises above 100

After peaking at 360 in early 2019, the embattled jet has reached a small milestone in its road to recovery 

The number of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in service has climbed above 100 for the first time since the type’s resumption of revenue flight in early December last year. 

According to travel data and analytics expert Cirium, the latest-generation twinjet’s 12 operators logged over 1,300 flights during the seven days to March 3.  

Leading the pack was American Airlines, with nearly 400 services using 27 examples out of 31 so far returned to operation, providing more than 107 million available seat kilometres (ASK). 

American Airlines operated nearly 400 flights in one week using its MAXs. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Brazil’s Gol – which was first carrier to resume commercial operations on December 9 – set the pace in terms of per-aircraft utilisation after flying its eight examples for an average of nearly 11 hours daily during the past week – compared with fewer than six hours for American. Gol’s MAX aircraft delivered more than 82 million ASKs over the seven day period. 

In Europe, TUI fly Belgium’s two in-service aircraft registered six tracked flights, while Czechia’s Smartwings recorded the same number of rotations with a single aircraft. 

The MAX programme received a further shot in the arm on March 1 when United Airlines – currently operating 12 aircraft with 18 in storage – announced an order for an additional 25, taking its backlog to 188.  

United Airlines has upped its order for the narrowbody by 25 airframes. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s regulator approved the MAX to re-enter service on March 2, after Australia on February 26 became the first Asia-Pacific nation to lift its ban on MAX flights to and from the country. 

However, it remains unclear when the jet will return to flight status in the crucial Chinese market, with that country’s regulator yet to agree a schedule for re-certification test flights. Cirium fleets data shows Chinese operators have 97 MAX aircraft in storage and a further 209 firm orders allocated to them. 

The global in-service MAX fleet previously peaked at 360 aircraft in early 2019, prior the type’s grounding following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.