|Image Credit: Boeing|
Canadian low cost carrier (LCC) WestJet announced today that it has signed a letter of intent (LoI) to purchase 65 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (40 737 MAX 8 and 25 737 MAX 7) from Boeing, in a deal worth $6.3 billion at list prices.
Deliveries of the 737 MAX will commence from September of 2017, and the order marks a net addition of 50 frames to WestJet’s order book, as 15 of the orders have been converted from existing WestJet orders for the Boeing 737NG. WestJet currently operates a fleet of 107 aircraft (103 Boeing 737 NG and 4 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprops operated for regional subsidiary WestJet Encore), with 123 more on order (65x 737 MAX, 42x remaining 737 NG, and 16 more Q400s for Encore).
WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky had this to say about the order
We are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with Boeing and are thrilled that we will be among the first North American airlines to fly the new 737 MAX in its first year of commercial operation. This pending order reinforces our strategy of maintaining the flexibility in our fleet plan while enabling us to introduce new fuel-efficient technology and enhance our inflight guest experience… Our strong balance sheet allows us the opportunity to support our low-cost business model and contribute to our profitable growth through the renewal of our fleet with a lower operating cost aircraft.
Said Brad McMullen, Vice-President of North America Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes:
We are pleased to see that the 737 MAX will continue the tradition of supporting WestJet’s vision to be one of the most successful international airlines in the world. The 737 MAX’s efficiency, reliability and passenger amenities will be a successful combination with WestJet’s famous customer service.
WestJet expects that a definitive purchase agreement will be signed before 30th September 2013.
The order from WestJet marks a victory for Boeing in the ever heated competition with rival Airbus’ A320neo, though an expected one (given WestJet’s large fleet of 737NGs). The order brings the 737 MAX to a solid 1,602 purchase commitment (1498 firm orders, 104 MoUs). But the MAX still lags behind the A320neo, which has racked up a massive 2,455 purchase commitments to date (2380 firm, 75 MoU – albeit having been offere for a full year longer than the 737 MAX).