The single-aisle 737 has served as Boeing’s best-selling model for years, making up ¾ of its total backlog. Recently, the newly launched 737 Max has garnered this series of models more popularity as Boeing has promised the aircraft’s operating cost would be lower than its competitors. As such, this past year saw an incredible demand for the aircraft, with nearly 1,200 gross orders. The 737 is popular for three main reasons, those of which we will outline in this blog.
Narrow-body Preference Across the Globe
The first reason the 737 is so popular is the increasing use of narrow-body planes in the last decade. Narrow-body aircraft are favorable to airlines since they provide better turnarounds and better take advantage of short-to-medium routes. According to Boeing’s 2014 market outlook, North America has been shifting toward single-aisle planes for domestic routes. While the 1993 aviation market showed that widebodies made up 20% of their capacity, this number has been reduced to 5% now. Similarly, China’s widebody capacity has fallen from 30% to 9% since 1993.
The emergence of low-cost carriers, or LCCs, has also spearheaded the demand for narrow bodies. As widebody aircraft carry higher list prices, most low-cost carriers center their fleets around single-aisle planes. Airbus studies demonstrate that the market share of LCCs with regard to seat capacity has risen 23% from 2003 to 2013. In Europe, LCCs accounted for 40% of the domestic capacity in 2013, and 20% in North America. Meanwhile, the share was nearly 60% in Southeast Asia.
Rising Demand in Asia Pacific
Based on the previous numbers, the demand in Asia is only expected to rise. In the last few years, the market has surpassed Europe, and is just behind North America. In 2013, Asia had a fleet size of 5,470 aircraft, 70% of which were narrow bodies. In the past few years, Southeast Asia has opened new short-haul routes that necessitate bigger fleets. With the partial implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ open skies agreement, the further liberalization of international routes is on the surface. This will open new short-haul routes in China, India, and Southeast Asia. According to Boeing, the demand for single-aisle airplanes is going to rise.
Serving as major narrow-body customers, China and India have been building new airports and expanding existing ones to cater to the increasing demand. Due to these trends, in 2015, the Indian government aimed to build 200 airports across 50 cities, and China intended to build around 55 more.
The 737 Presents an Attractive Proposition to Carriers
Beyond adding to the fleets belonging to major airliners, airliners are also replacing their existing aircraft with upgraded planes. The 737 Max 8, for instance, emits less CO2 and saves fuel by nearly 14% when compared with current single-aisle planes. In fact, Boeing claims that the 737 would offer the best operating cost and be 8% more efficient per seat than Airbus’ A320neo. On the other hand, the 737 Max is said to have a better reliability rate than the 99.7% provided by the current 737 models. Overall, the benefits from the 737 have made it loved among carriers around the globe.
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