Virgin Australia considers switching orders from 737 MAX 10 to 737 MAX 8s  

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Australian low-cost carrier Virgin Australia is said to be considering “alternative options” for its outstanding order of 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft. Reports have emerged in the Australian media that the carrier is frustrated with ongoing delays with the MAX 10 program at Boeing, which has been hit by a perfect storm of issues following the blow-out of an emergency exit on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 in January 2024.  

Publications including the Australian Financial Journal have reported that the airline is currently assessing plans to switch at least part of its order for MAX 10s and opt for the smaller 737 MAX 8 model instead. The MAX 10 variant seats 205 passengers while the MAX 8 accommodates 180. However, the smaller variant boasts a greater range, making it more versatile within the Virgin Australia fleet and potentially useful in opening up more route deployment possibilities.  

The carrier originally ordered 13 737 MAX 8s, the bulk of which were supposed to arrive by the end of 2024 with another four already in operation with the company. However, given the issues faced by Boeing and its production of the MAX family of aircraft (including supply chain issues, safety audits, and certification delays), it is now expected that only a further four MAX 8s will be delivered this year and the other six will arrive in 2025, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. 

Additionally, Virgin Australia has orders for 25 of the larger Boeing 737 MAX 10s which were meant to start arriving in 2025. However, the type’s entry into service with the airline has been delayed until the 2026 financial year.  

Virgin Australia 737-8 ready for delivery in Seattle
Virgin Australia

“We have been advised by Boeing there will be a delay to the delivery of some 737 MAX 8 aircraft, and we are working to minimize impacts to our schedule,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said on March 18, 2024. While acknowledging delays to the 737 MAX 8 delivery program, the carrier has not yet publicly commented on the MAX 10 order switch rumors.   

Virgin Australia has built its entire operation around the Boeing 737 family of aircraft since its reemergence from administration following the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ch-aviation, the carrier currently operates a fleet of 71 of the type comprising nine 737-700s, 60 737-800s, and the four 737 MAX 8s. The carrier also operates 17 aircraft (Fokker 70s, Fokker 100s, and Saab SF340s operated on its behalf by other carriers).   

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