Boeing appears to have started quietly dropping the “Max” from its 737 Max aircraft in the wake of recent air disasters, instead referring to a 737-8.
The new name has hitherto been used only internally at Boeing and emerged when the company put out a statement on Wednesday to announce it had won its first order for the grounded 737 Max aircraft this year. Poland’s Enter Air SA agreed to buy up to four variants of the jet.
Grzegorz Polaniecki, general director at Enter Air said in the statement: “Despite the current crisis, it is important to think about the future. To that end, we have agreed to order additional 737-8 aircraft. Following the rigorous checks that the 737 Max is undergoing, I am convinced it will be the best aircraft in the world for many years to come.”
The 737 Max jet’s recertification is still hanging in the balance more than a year after its worldwide grounding due to two fatal crashes, in which nearly 350 people died – one in Indonesia (2018) and the other in Ethiopia (2019). The planemaker’s woes have been compounded by the coronavirus crisis hitting air travel.
Boeing’s customers have cancelled more than 400 orders for the 737 Max jets this year, the company said last week. Based on a tighter accounting standard, the 737 Max order cancellations and conversions to other aircraft models now stand at 864.
The planemaker said on Wednesday that Enter Air placed a new order for two 737-8 aircraft with options for two more jets. When the purchase agreement is fully exercised, Enter Air’s 737 Max fleet will rise to 10 aircraft, Boeing said.
S&P Global Ratings analyst Chris DeNicolo said: “Although it is significant because it’s the first Max order since December 2019, it’s a small order … [Enter Air] likely got a significant discount.”
Enter Air said it had reached a deal with Boeing to address the impact from the 737 Max groundings, and would defer the deliveries of previously ordered Max airplanes following weak air travel demand.
The carrier took deliveries of two 737 Max planes in 2018 and currently has four unfilled orders for the jet.
Boeing’s shares were up about 1% at $171.60.