The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX is testing Southwest Airlines’ undying allegiance with Boeing. The grounding of the MAX until at least the summer is hurting the carrier as it was the largest operator of the type.
Southwest is also the launch customer of the MAX.
Worst yet, how will Southwest re-assure its customers to get back on the MAX when it can fly again? For the average flyer, telling the difference between WN’s fleet of Boeing 737-700s and 737-800s Next-Gen aircraft from the newer MAX aircraft made be problematic for the average rider. The older 737s may become guilty by association for WN’s customers. Can the public’s distrust of the MAX be erased? History suggests it can be overcome as other tarnished types were able to weather their individual storms.
Is the all-Boeing allegiance in trouble at Southwest?
According to this article by Jon Ostrower of The Air Current, Southwest is talking to an Airbus A220 operator in Europe (airBaltic? Swiss?) about the impressive new type performance. The A220 was designed by Bombardier and is now marketed by rival Airbus.
Boeing, are you listening? More importantly, Boeing stockholders, are you listening?