Why we're buying dozens of new 737 Max 10 aircraft: WestJet CEO
WestJet Airlines Ltd. has entered into an agreement with Boeing Co. to purchase 42 737-10 aircraft, with options for 22 more, the company announced Thursday.
The agreement is in addition to the airline's outstanding 23 MAX orders. The 737-10 aircraft is the largest in the Boeing MAX family.
“With this additional order, the WestJet Group will accept delivery of no fewer than 65 aircraft in the next six years, at least 50 will be 737-10 aircraft, furthering our commitment to affordable travel options for Canadians and jobs for our company and the aerospace industry,” Alexis von Hoensbroech, the WestJet chief executive officer, said in the release.
The move is a multi-billion dollar investment into Canadian connectivity and jobs, Hoensbroech said in a television interview Thursday. WestJet currently has a fleet of around 170 aircraft, with 110 active 737s.
The Boeing 737-10, according to the release, features greater efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions by nearly 20 per cent per seat when compared to previous generations.
“The 737-10 aircraft is one of the MAX aircraft. So, that's the latest technology of the 737 aircraft and it's the most fuel-efficient aircraft that Boeing is producing in the mid-range segment. It's among the most, not only fuel efficient, but also cost-efficient airplanes that exist,” he said, adding that it fits 230 passengers.
The 737 aircraft is a vital part of the Canadian airline’s strategy for long-term growth, announced in June, when WestJet stated it was working toward a substantial order of the aircraft.
The airline’s expansion plans emphasize increasing its presence in Western Canada and providing more direct routes to sun and leisure destinations, Hoensbroech said.
“The strategy that we communicated in June, I believe, is centred around three things. One is… double down on the West, growing our presence in the West as we believe this geography is still underserved and we are the home carry of the West so we will do far more of this,” he said.
The second aspect of the strategy is growth in the East, along with shifting focus to expanding leisure segments and North American sunbelt destinations.
Hoensbroech, who was previously the chief executive officer of Austrian Airlines, said there are a few key differences between the Canadian and European airline industries.
Firstly, he said that while Europe generally has multiple methods of transportation, air travel is the only available mode of transportation for many communities in Canada.
“Therefore this country depends far more than most other countries on this planet on air connectivity,” Hoensbroech said.
Another significant difference is the demand for warm destinations as many Canadian travellers head south during the winter.
“The third thing which I find a little bit astonishing [is] that despite the fact that Canada needs airlines, probably more than any other country around the world, it also has one of the most expensive air infrastructure systems,” Hoensbroech said.