Southwest Airlines formally launched (15-May-2013) the Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft powered by the LEAP-1B engine. This is the third member of the 737 MAX family. The airline converted an existing order for 30 737NGs to the MAX 7 variant. The LCC also exercised options to add five more Next-Generation 737-800s to its fleet. Southwest originally launched the LEAP-1B engine on the 737 MAX in 2011 with an order for 150 firm aircraft. This new order takes the airlines total firm fleet to 360 engines. The new aircraft are scheduled to begin delivery in 2019. Southwest also has options for 150 additional LEAP-1B-powered 737 MAX aircraft. The LEAP-1B engine achieved a major milestone in Apr-2013 when CFM concluded design freeze. Parts manufacturing for the LEAP-1B engine will then accelerate through year end, leading to build-up of the first engine in early 2014. The LEAP-1B is on schedule for CFM flight testing in 2015 and engine certification in 2016. The 737 MAX is scheduled to enter service in 2017. Southwest is CFM's largest commercial customer, operating a fleet of more than 600 CFM56-powered 737s. With the MAX 7 conversions and exercised options for 737-800s, Southwest’s unfilled orders consist of 180 737 MAX airplanes and 137 737NGs. The 737 MAX now has orders for 1315 aircraft. [more - original PR - CFM] [more - original PR - Boeing/Southwest]
Southwest Airlines formally launches Boeing 737 MAX 7, converts 30 737NG order to MAX 7 varient
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At nearly 46 years old and 17 years old, respectively, Southwest and jetBlue approach their financial priorities differently. jetBlue is in the process of buying a certain level of aircraft off lease to reduce debt and raise its levels of unencumbered aircraft. Southwest is concluding a hefty investment in a long overdue overhaul of its reservations system and making other significant technology investments.
Each airline also has a different capital allocation strategy. Southwest has engaged in some level of shareholder returns since the 1990s, whereas jetBlue’s shareholder return strategy is just starting to take shape – the airline is reaching a point in its leverage performance where it can contemplate more meaningful levels of shareholder returns in the medium term.
One area where Southwest and jetBlue hold similar visions is balance sheet strength, and the airlines have similar leverage goals: to support capex commitments, maintain manageable debt levels, and expand or sustain return to shareholders.
"Level": IAG's new long haul low cost brand to launch 4 routes from Barcelona, with more to come
On 17-Mar-2017, IAG announced the launch of its newest airline brand, 'Level', which it will use to operate the group's first long haul low cost flights from Jun-2017. The launch routes will be from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. It will compete head to head with Norwegian on the Los Angeles and Oakland routes.
In Dec-2016, IAG had said that it had not yet decided whether to create a new brand or to operate its planned Barcelona long haul low cost routes under one of its existing brands British Airways, Iberia or even Aer Lingus. Vueling was ruled out, although its strength at Barcelona will provide connecting feed. IAG's solution is to create Level, a new airline brand, but to operate it initially with Iberia pilots and cabin crew.
IAG has also confirmed that Level will deploy two new 314 seat Airbus A330-200s (293 economy and 21 premium economy) and will create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona. Level, IAG's first entirely new airline brand, will also look to expand to add flights from other European cities.