Southwest operated the most 737 Max 8 jets among U.S. carriers, with 34 in its fleet. Boeing continues to work on a fix for the plane’s software that’s been blamed in two deadly crashes that killed 346 people, but it’s uncertain when the Federal Aviation Administration will let the jets carry passengers again.
In an interview Thursday on cable network CNBC, Kelly said Southwest will continue to assess the Max’s status on a rolling 30-day basis. He even hinted that the airline might be willing to consider alternative plane types.
“We’re an all Boeing 737 carrier,” Kelly said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll be an all 737 carrier into perpetuity.”
Southwest is renowned for its nimbleness and efficiency in part because of its use of a single type of aircraft — the Boeing 737. Other airlines use multiple aircraft in their fleets. Aviation news sites have reported in recent days that Southwest executives traveled to Europe to check out the Airbus A220 plane.
Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said there was nothing unusual about the visit.
“We’re just always out there trying to discuss and evaluate economics and opportunities in airplanes,” he said. “It’s kind of like going to the new-car show — you just like all the different products that you see out there.”
Kelly said the trip was planned a long time ago, and Southwest was not trying to send a message to Boeing. “We have no plan to do anything other than grow our fleet with the Max,” he said.
The carrier has an order for 41 more Max planes on hold with Boeing.
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