“Without the supply chain there will be nothing for us to assemble so it’s as simple at that,” said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun at the annual meeting in April when discussing the need to support the company’s suppliers.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that caused air travel to plummet, airlines and aircraft leasing companies have canceled orders for 299 of the 737 Max. Another 240 of the jets have have had their order status changed and Boeing no longer counts them as firm orders.
The company still has firm orders for more than 3,800 of the 737 Max on its books. And some of the airlines that have pushed back the delivery of the jet due to the number of planes they have parked say they hope to take delivery of the 737 Max some day soon.
“We’re still wanting to get the Max back into service,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting earlier this month. “The Max airplane is superior to the [older versions of the] 737 that we’re currently operating. It burns less fuel. It’s an excellent airplane. And certainly in this environment, we would love to retire some of our older aircraft, avoid some expensive maintenance and a substitute with the newer airplanes.”
Southwest originally planned to take delivery of 107 737 Boeing Max jets between 2019 through 2021, and another 19 from aircraft leasing companies. But it so far has received only three of those planes due to the grounding. Under an agreement with Boeing, it will now take delivery of no more than 48 of those jets through the end of 2021, and defer orders for at least 59 others.