Dubai Airshow: Turkey's SunExpress places firm order for 45 Boeing 737 Max jets

Airline also signs agreement for options and purchase rights for another 45 aircraft

Form left, Brad McMullen, senior vice president for commercial sales and marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Stan Deal, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Max Kownatzki, chief executive of SunExpress, and Tuncay Eminoglu, deputy chief executive of SunExpress at the signing ceremony at the Dubai Airshow. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Turkey's SunExpress has placed a firm order for 45 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with options and purchase rights for an additional 45 as it seeks to increase capacity and meet growing demand from its leading markets.

The order for the 45 planes, the airline's largest to date, comprises 28 Max 8s and 17 Max 10s, the companies said at the Dubai Airshow on Monday.

SunExpress said the deal is a “milestone”, as the 737 Max 10 – which can seat up to 230 passengers – will allow it to carry more than 200 travellers on a flight for the first time.

Deliveries are expected by 2029, as SunExpress is still in the midst of an order for 42 737-8 aircraft, nine of which have been delivered, chief executive Max Kownatzki told The National.

The order will more than double the airline's current all-Boeing fleet of 66 aircraft to about 150 by 2033, he said.

It will also add the capacity needed to serve its strong Turkish market, where the airline has reported strong growth, Mr Kownatzki said.

As a result of this growth, the airline looks to build its momentum in Turkey “and beyond”, including in its Abu Dhabi and Dubai services, he said.

“We're operating in 30 countries and we're looking further … we're committed to building up.”

The order will also contribute to SunExpress' goal of operating a fleet that is sustainable and fuel efficient, Mr Kownatzki said.

“The environmental footprint, as SunExpress takes people around, has become an important part of the dimension of the service,” he said.

SunExpress is a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Germany's Lufthansa, and has headquarters in Antalya and Frankfurt. It connects Turkey with Europe and other popular leisure destinations.

The carrier's network covers 175 routes in 30 countries.

In 2022, it carried nearly 11 million passengers, the airline said.

Its order is an early win for Boeing at the Dubai Airshow, where the aircraft maker is expected to compete with Airbus and others for orders.

The event has set the stage for a flurry of orders as airlines seek to win coveted delivery slots for the latest fuel-efficient jets amid a post-coronavirus boom in air travel.

Orders could range from 300 to more than 400 aircraft this year at the air show, where some of aviation industry's biggest deals have been signed in the past, according to estimates by industry analysts.

Virginia-based Boeing said its 737 Max aircraft offers carriers flexibility for short and medium-haul air travel. The 737 Max family reduces fuel use and carbon emissions by 20 per cent compared to the aircraft they replace, it said.

“SunExpress's continued commitment to the 737 Max reflects its confidence in the aeroplane's capability to meet demand from travellers to popular destinations across Turkey and beyond,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial.

Updated: November 13, 2023, 11:46 AM