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.
FedEx is planning an expansion that could increase its overnight capacity in a place known for its midnight sun.
The State of Alaska, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport proposed a land lease with FedEx Corp., according to a State public notice.
The lease is for 1.1 million square feet at the airport with a rental rate of $0.18 per square foot. The 30-year lease would have two, 10-year options to extend. The proposed value of the investment was listed at $57 million.
Under the proposed authorized uses the notice states: “Develop, construct, operate and maintain an approximate 98,000 sq. ft. Domestic Operations Center, infrastructure and improvements to support applicant’s warehouse operations to include administrative offices and aircraft and vehicle parking.”
According to FedEx’s most recent 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, FedEx Express currently leases 64 acres at the Anchorage airport from the State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. It occupies 332,000 square feet of space and has the capacity to sort 25,000 documents/packages per hour. That lease runs through 2023.
FedEx’s uses Anchorage to handle international express packages and freight shipments to and from Asia, Europe, and North America.
When asked about the expansion, Sederia Gray with FedEx’s Global Media Relations team provided the following statement:
“As a matter of corporate policy, we do not publicly disclose information about planned projects until agreements are finalized.”
FedEx recently announced an additional $450 million investment at the Memphis World Hub at Memphis International Airport, bringing that modernization total to $1.5 billion. Those updates are projected to be finished in 2025.