WestJet To Place Major Boeing 737 Max Order

 - August 29, 2013, 10:28 AM
WestJet expects to take delivery of its first 737 Max in 2017.

Canada’s WestJet has signed a letter of intent to buy 40 Boeing 737 Max 8s and 25 Max 7s, the Calgary-based low-fare carrier announced Thursday. The airline said it expects close a definitive purchase agreement with Boeing before September 30 and start taking deliveries in September 2017. Boeing values the order at $6.3 billion based on list prices.

WestJet said it plans to substitute existing orders for 15 Boeing 737NGs scheduled for delivery between December 2014 and 2018 with the order for the Max aircraft, resulting in a net increase in committed deliveries to its fleet plan. Including this pending order, WestJet’s future Boeing 737 aircraft deliveries now total 92, including rights to substitute some of its positions to slots for 737 Max 9s. Plans call for all the airplanes to arrive between 2017 and 2027. The airline noted that as a result of the flexibility built into its fleet plan, which includes lease renewal options but excludes any potential sales other than the previously announced sale of ten 737NGs in 2014 and 2015, the fleet could grow to include as many as 162 Boeing 737s or as few as 120 of the Boeing narrowbodies a decade from now.

“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 in-flight guest experience,” said WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky. “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.”

WestJet’s fleet now consists of 103 Boeing 737NGs, and four Bombardier Q400s. It took delivery of the first of an order for 20 of the Canadian turboprops on June 6.