SunExpress Takes Delivery Of Its First Boeing 737 MAX

SunExpress has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The Turkish low-cost leisure carrier has 42 of the type on order from the US aerospace giant. The first aircraft due to be delivered in the SunExpress livery ended up at a different carrier after Lufthansa wound up sister airline SunExpress Deutschland.

SunExpress has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: Preston Fiedler

Tomorrow will mark a year since the Boeing 737 MAX returned to the skies with paying passengers following a 20-month grounding. Boeing has delivered almost 200 of its latest generation narrowbody in the time since, with several airlines such as European LCC Ryanair and Canada’s Flair Airlines taking their first jet of the type.

SunExpress’ 1st MAX delivered

Earlier today, the first Boeing 737 MAX bound for SunExpress took off from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. According to data from RadarBox.com, TC-SOI left Seattle at 01:39 in the morning. It is currently en route to Keflavik in Iceland for a technical stop before continuing to Turkey.

According to data from ch-aviation.com, the jet is already almost three years old. Having taken its first flight on April 7th, 2019, MSN 61200 clocks in with an age of 2.68 years, despite being brand new in terms of flight hours. Boeing had initially continued building 737 MAX aircraft, expecting the grounding to be a short-lived event.

Interestingly, SunExpress was one of the few airlines to actually place an order for the Boeing 737 MAX while the type remained grounded. The airline exercised options for ten aircraft at the 2019 Dubai Airshow, around eight months into the type’s 20-month grounding.

The SunExpress Boeing 737 MAX

According to data from ch-aviation.com, SunExpress’ Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will be delivered with a cabin of 189 seats in a 3-3 configuration. This puts the aircraft on par with the airline’s existing Boeing 737-800 aircraft and means seamless fleet integration.

In contrast, when Ryanair began to fly the Boeing 737 MAX, it meant that changes were needed to the airline’s technical infrastructure. For Ryanair, the difference between the -800 and its MAX-200 meant that additional seats had to be added to the seat map, including more extra legroom seats due to an additional emergency exit.

According to aeroTELEGRAPH, SunExpress had expected to be flying 15 MAX jets by the end of 2021. However, thanks to the delay, the jets aren’t expected to carry passengers for the airline until early 2022. The airline expects all 42 of its aircraft to be delivered by 2028-29 but is yet to decide whether to use the order to expand its fleet or replace older aircraft.

Who is SunExpress?

SunExpress is a Turkish scheduled carrier formed in 1989 as a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines. The airline’s first flight took to the skies on April 2nd, 1990, and the airline hit one million passengers in 1993. Fast forward to 2001, and the airline was carrying that many passengers in a single year, before carrying its ten-millionth passengers in 2004.

In 2011 a subsidiary named SunExpress Deutschland was set up to allow the airline to expand into emerging markets from a base in Frankfurt. In less than a decade, from 2005 to 2014, the airline increased its fleet by 400% to 50 aircraft. SunExpress Deutschland was closed down in 2020 in response to the pandemic.

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