Thursday, August 29, 2019

Southwest Airlines doesn’t plan to rebrand Boeing 737 MAX

When the Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX does return to service, one of its largest customers will continue forward with the MAX name.

Officials from Southwest Airlines this week told FlightGlobal at the Boyd International Forecast Summit that Southwest would not change the name of the aircraft.

A company spokesperson confirmed that decision to the WBJ Wednesday morning.

“We do not have any plans to rebrand the 737 MAX when it returns to service,” Southwest’s Chris Mainz said via email. “Our philosophy is to be completely open and transparent with our customers, just as they’ve come to expect from Southwest.”

Boeing’s 737 MAX has been grounded since March following two deadly crashes of the jet.

The manufacturer is now hopeful its coming package of software upgrades and training enhancements will allow regulators, including the Federal Aviation Administration, to return the jet to service in the fourth quarter.

Southwest, which has an all-Boeing 737 fleet, currently has 34 of the new MAX variants and nearly 250 more on order.

Questions about the possibility of a rebrand either by Boeing or by individual customers have swirled around the industry in the wake of the grounding.

That’s included a tweet suggesting a rebrand from President Donald Trump in April and images captured in July of a Ryanair 737 MAX coming off Boeing’s production line that no longer included the MAX name.

Boeing has said that it also doesn’t plan to rename the aircraft.

Each MAX jet comes with heavy ties to Wichita, where Spirit AeroSystems Inc. builds around 70 percent of the structure on the jet.

While Boeing trimmed its output on the 737 line from 52 per month to 42 following the grounding — it is holding completed jets in storage for delivery after the return to service of the MAX — Spirit has continued to build at the rate of 52 as part of a staggered production agreement between the two companies.

The Wichita supplier is holding excess components in inventory until delivery is requested by Boeing. The company is still being paid for those components, including the aircraft's full fuselage, which it builds at its southwest Wichita plant.

(Daniel McCoy - Wichita Business Journal)

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