Virgin Australia delays Boeing 737 MAX order, adds more MAX 10s

By David | Apr 30, 2019, 09:24 AM
Just in: Virgin Australia has (not unexpectedly) pushed back on its plans for the Boeing 737 MAX, however the airline has also upgraded a slab of its orders from the smaller MAX 8 to the larger MAX 10.

* Delivery of Virgin's first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was due November 2019, but now won't take place until July 2021

* 15 orders for the MAX 8 aircraft have been swapped for the MAX 10 (ten of which were already on the books)


Virgin's revised Boeing 737 MAX delivery roster now lists the first MAX as being due in July 2021, and that'll be the MAX 10. The first MAX 8 isn't expected to join Virgin's fleet until February 2025.


Virgin's Boeing 737 MAX order book now stands at 25 x MAX 10 and 23 x MAX 8.


From Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah:

“Safety is always the number one priority for Virgin Australia. As we have previously stated, we will not introduce any new a.craft to the fleet unless we are completely satisfied with its safety. We are confident in Boeing’s commitment to returning the 737 MAX to service safely and as a long-term partner of Boeing, we will be working with them through this process."

“The revised timing also results in a number of positive commercial benefits for the Group. This includes a significant deferral of capital expenditure by extending the use of existing aircraft given the relatively young age of our fleet along with providing the Group earlier access to the superior operational economics of the MAX 10 aircraft.”

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By DanV | Apr 30, 2019, 09:32 AM
Not really surprising, imo. Probably best for VA financially to give themselves more time to continue to recover their cashflow (on the back of improved domestic results) after a tumultuous past couple of years.

One of the few concerns for them at this point is the international division and the decisions needed to be taken there, whilst taking into consideration the JV contracts (e.g DL and the USA flights, HX/HU and HKG/China, etc).
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By Grannular | Apr 30, 2019, 10:52 AM
Interesting news but not overly surprising. Wonder what other changes we will see in the near future now Scurrah is on board. I do hope we still see something special on the MAX10's for Perth.

I wonder what this means for Tiger and their transition to 737's instead of A320's. From memory Tiger were supposed to get hand me down's from Virgin as Virgin added new aircraft. This would seem to indicate a stalled transition for a few years for Tiger which isn't ideal for a LCC having a mixed fleet.

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By LatteLaptopLoon | Apr 30, 2019, 11:38 AM
Getting a couple of computer nerds to fix an aerodynamic fault is a big step down for Boeing. Friends don’t let friends fly on a B737 MAX.
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By RR | Apr 30, 2019, 12:08 PM
The problem with the 737 MAX is that it is a 737. This is a 60’s design that had its genesis in the Boeing 707 in the 1950’s. The 737 MAX is using the same narrow cross section cabin that is over 60 years old, and originally designed for 3+2, not 3+3. In economy, I find Virgin’s 737 to be really tight sideways. And with the current powerful engines they have packed us in with a squeazy seat pitch. The Airbus A320 series is noticeably more comfortable width wise.

I see many reports saying that the MAX was a hasty revision to counter the sales success of the A320NEO; that Boeing had insufficient time, or were just too slow to do a clean sheet design to update the 737, which clearly it sorely needs. Although they are generally reliable, I for one will be very pleased when 737’s are phased out (that will be a long time I guess!)

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By Albinoni1967 | Apr 30, 2019, 02:25 PM
I really wonder why Virgin did not buy the Airbus Neo A320 or A321, and yet they're still buying this Boeing 737, a coke can with wings basically just with a more advanced cockpit.
Last edited by ChrisCh at Apr 30, 2019, 02.33 PM.
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By StudiodeKadent | Apr 30, 2019, 03:02 PM
Interesting that they've increased the number of Max 10s. Perhaps they want a subfleet of Max 10s for higher-capacity short-haul routes, and a subfleet of Max 10s for the short-haul international and transcon routes?
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By djtech | Apr 30, 2019, 03:20 PM
I really wonder why Virgin did not buy the Airbus Neo A320 or A321, and yet they're still buying this Boeing 737, a coke can with wings basically just with a more advanced cockpit.
Last edited by ChrisCh at Apr 30, 2019, 02.33 PM.

Because the original promise of the 737 MAX was that pilots would need minimal additional training to fly on this 'new' aircraft. Since Virgin is operating 737s now, it makes sense to find an aircraft that takes minimal effort to convert to as their main domestic and short-haul aircraft. Of course, we know how the reduced training especially on the new systems turned out.
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By andyf | Apr 30, 2019, 08:07 PM
While no doubt this was financially driven, it absolutely makes sense PR wise as well. Even if the 737 Max is back flying by November, the public will still associate it with poor safety for some time. The media will call out that Virgin is flying them, and the average punter may well associate all Virgin 737s with being unsafe because of it.
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By patrickk | Apr 30, 2019, 08:14 PM
This also calls out the President of their pilots union who before any evidence declared the 737max a marvellous aircraft and it was all to do with pilot error. I suspect Boeing will change the name at some point, probably starting with the max10 as it is not flying yet.
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By Metoo | May 01, 2019, 12:09 AM
I’m told as that as the Max has only 2 engines that it’s top heavy and makes the airplane dip upon take off. This can be managed with assistance. Unfortunately, the upgrade of training costs millions of dollars and it may be that the poorer countries haven’t bought in.
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By Wezza | May 01, 2019, 11:52 AM
The problem with the 737 MAX is that it is a 737. This is a 60’s design that had its genesis in the Boeing 707 in the 1950’s. The 737 MAX is using the same narrow cross section cabin that is over 60 years old, and originally designed for 3+2, not 3+3. In economy, I find Virgin’s 737 to be really tight sideways. And with the current powerful engines they have packed us in with a squeazy seat pitch. The Airbus A320 series is noticeably more comfortable width wise.

I see many reports saying that the MAX was a hasty revision to counter the sales success of the A320NEO; that Boeing had insufficient time, or were just too slow to do a clean sheet design to update the 737, which clearly it sorely needs. Although they are generally reliable, I for one will be very pleased when 737’s are phased out (that will be a long time I guess!)


Wrong. The original Dash-80 was 3+2 but Boeing went back to the drawing board when the DC-8 started selling like hot cakes and they widened the fuselage cross section to accommodate 3+3. Yes it's not as wide as the A320 but to be quite honest it's not that bad.
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By Joe | May 01, 2019, 01:43 PM
Virgin was never an option and now even more-so in deciding to fly deathtrap aircraft.
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By reeves35 | May 01, 2019, 02:59 PM
I’m told as that as the Max has only 2 engines that it’s top heavy and makes the airplane dip upon take off. This can be managed with assistance. Unfortunately, the upgrade of training costs millions of dollars and it may be that the poorer countries haven’t bought in.

I don't really understand your point; every 737 since the 737-100 in the '60s has only had 2 engines. The issue with the MAX appears to be that due to the size of the engine intake the engine was moved further forward of the wing altering the centre of gravity of the plane as well as creating a source of lift independent from the wing surfaces. Due to an issue with MCAS and the deletion of software that advised on conflicting AoA readings, the plane could, in some circumstances, be difficult and even deadly to handle. At this stage, it is believed the revised software will overcome these issues.
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By reeves35 | May 01, 2019, 03:02 PM
Virgin was never an option and now even more-so in deciding to fly deathtrap aircraft.

They are accepting the delivery of the currently problematic MAX8 in 2025. It is fair to say that if the safety issues of the MAX8 are not sorted by then, they never will be and the 737 will have been deleted from Boeing's catalog. QF are just as likely as not to order the MAX also to replace their existing 737s. I assume if they also order the MAX, you will take the train.
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By Notso Swift | May 01, 2019, 08:29 PM
While no doubt this was financially driven, it absolutely makes sense PR wise as well. Even if the 737 Max is back flying by November, the public will still associate it with poor safety for some time. The media will call out that Virgin is flying them, and the average punter may well associate all Virgin 737s with being unsafe because of it.

Indeed, I have had friends talk about the "risk" of flying on a 737 and I explained to them there are no Max's (Maxes?) flying in AU and they on the same bus that does 90% of flights in AU, which is still the old 737 that has never crashed in this country

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