Virgin Australia could swap B737 MAX 10s for MAX 8s amid Boeing delays

Virgin Australia could swap B737 MAX 10s for MAX 8s amid Boeing delays
A Boeing 737 MAX 10 demonstration flight at the 2023 Paris Air Show (Image credit: VanderWolf Images/Adobe Stock)

Virgin Australia is said to be considering plans to swap its Boeing 737 MAX 10 orders with the smaller MAX 8 variant, amid increasing uncertainty over the MAX 10’s certification.

It is understood the airline’s order for 25 MAX 10s includes options for a conversion to other variants, The Australian Financial Review reports.

The variant swap is yet to be confirmed, although the Australian carrier has pointed out that Boeing’s delivery delays are also affecting the MAX 8.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia said: “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 minimise impacts on our schedule.”

Virgin Australia already has four MAX 8 aircraft delivered, and the airline was on course to receive the bulk of its remaining 10 MAX 8s by the end of this year.

It is now expected that the last six aircraft will not be delivered until 2025.

Amid the delays, a Boeing spokesperson told airlines: “We are squarely focused on implementing changes to strengthen quality across our production system and taking the necessary time to deliver high-quality airplanes that meet all regulatory requirements.

“We continue to stay in close contact with our valued customers about these issues and our actions to address them.”

The airline was meant to receive the MAX 10s from next year but the deliveries have now been pushed back to at least 2026.

The delays and uncertainties of aircraft deliveries are just a couple of the numerous setbacks the airline has been facing, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

In 2020, Virgin Australia was bailed out from administration by private equity firm Bain Capital, which injected the carrier with AU$3.5bn as it went through a major restructure.

The restructure included streamlining its fleet making it a single-type operator of the 737, aiming to save costs on aspects such as pilot training and maintenance in an attempt to escape a “decade of losses”.

The strategy limits the airline from the possibility of switching towards Airbus aircraft as a reactive measure.

But rival carrier Qantas has already left Boeing for its future narrowbody fleet – opting for the Airbus A321XLR to replace its 737s.