Alaska Airlines (ALK.N) is “anxious” to begin taking deliveries of the larger Boeing 737 MAX 10 to help it carry more passengers once the plane is certified, the carrier’s CEO Ben Minicucci said on Wednesday.
Boeing (BA.N) must first win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for its smaller MAX 7 before it can get approval for the MAX 10.
Both variants have faced major delays amid more intense regulatory scrutiny after criticism of the earlier certification process for the MAX 8, which suffered fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.
“Basically we like bigger airplanes,” Minicucci said in an interview of the preference for the MAX 10, which can carry 189 passengers, up from 178 on the MAX 9. “For essentially the same trip costs I put 11 more passengers on.”
In October, Alaska Airlines said it was exercising options to purchase 52 MAX aircraft for delivery between 2024 and 2027 and secured rights for 105 more planes through 2030. The company said on Wednesday it has 48 MAX 10s on order.
“We’re anxious that it gets approved,” Minicucci said. “Of course it has to be safe and certified appropriately but we’ll be a big fan of the -10 when it comes out.”
Boeing said on May 31 certification of the MAX 7 is taking a “considerable amount of time” due to new documentation requirements, but the planemaker still believes it can be approved by the end of the year.
Both the MAX 7 and MAX 10 are seen as critical for Boeing to compete against Airbus (AIR.PA) for orders at the smaller and larger ends of the narrowbody market.
Minicucci said Alaska has a good relationship with Boeing, which builds the MAX near its Seattle headquarters and has been transparent about supply chain issues.
“They walked us through every production glitch that they’ve had,” Minicucci said. “We get briefings like every two weeks from these guys on where they are.”