Boeing Rebrands The 737 MAX

Boeing announced the sale today of two 737 MAX aircraft. That’s a big deal because the MAX, in service only since fall 2018, has been grounded since March 2019 – and because airlines generally are conserving cash rather than spending money to buy planes.

However the biggest piece of news in Enter Air’s aircraft order is that Boeing no longer calls the planes MAX. Instead they’re calling it the 737-8, not to be (or to be) confused with the older 737-800.

Enter Air is a Polish charter airline, based out of Warsaw with 22 Boeing 737-800s and 2 Boeing 737 MAX 8s. They have more MAXs on order, and they’ve ordered two more. But that’s not how they’re describing the plane that’s been ordered. Instead they planes are just described as 737-8s.

Enter Air today announced the Polish airline is expanding its commitment to the 737 family with a new order for two 737-8 airplanes plus options for two more jets.

With this deal then Enter Air will operate both 737-800s and 737-8s. Boeing weasels their way around this, explaining 737-8s are the same planes as MAX 8s the airline already has in service, “When the new purchase agreement is fully exercised, Enter Air’s 737 MAX fleet will rise to 10 aircraft.”

The airline’s general director also calls the planes 737-8s, while emphasizing his confidence in the MAX.

Despite the current crisis, it is important to think about the future. To that end, we have agreed to order additional 737-8 aircraft. Following the rigorous checks that the 737 MAX is undergoing, I am convinced it will be the best aircraft in the world for many years to come

Boeing’s Senior Vice President Commercial Sales and Marketing plays fast and loose with the names, too, suggesting Enter Air’s “order for additional 737-8s underscores their confidence in the” MAX. Say what?

American Airlines, a major operator of the MAX, has said rebranding makes no sense. As American’s President Robert Isom explained it in December, there will be “no rebranding this aircraft” instead “the most important thing to restoring any kind of confidence is to simply get the aircraft back flying.” The 737 MAX ‘new’ 737-8 could fly again by December.

Last April President Trump suggested rebranding the plane. When the President of the United States, himself a successful promoter whose primary asset is his brand, gives free marketing advice it’s actually worth listening to, even if he’s just cribbing it straight from Stringer Bell in The Wire.

Regulators are inherently conservative and they aren’t going to sign off on a return to the skies unless they’re really sure of the fixes – it’s bad enough that an aviation disaster occurs, it’s even worse for a bureaucrat if it should happen again after they’ve explicitly examined and signed off on the strategy to avoid the incident. Other aircraft have had troubling starts and gone on to have long and successful careers.

Would a new name help? There’s no question it was crucial to making AirTran née ValuJet a success. In this case though there just seems too much sleight of hand, like Boeing is trying to pull a fast one, and I think appearing to run from the MAX undermines confidence in the plane just as it’s getting ready to be re-certified for flight by the FAA.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hate him or love him I think Trump is right here… remember how people were freaking out getting on 737’s ? Most humans are pretty dumb

  2. Let’s be honest, December might be the best time for the MAX to fly again. With the backdrop of a pandemic and a hotly contested election, the vast majority of fliers won’t even notice.

  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; most of the readers of this blog know the make and model of the commercial aircraft that they are flying on and some even choose a flight because of the A/C on a certain route or time. However, the 99.9% of the flying population that don’t read this blog don’t know and don’t care what type of A/C they are flying on (most of them have no idea how a plane even leaves the ground), they only look at the airline flight with the lowest price. Once the 737 MAX or 737-8 is recertified and flies for a couple of months with no incidents, all this will become history.

  4. This was an obvious move for Boeing. Glad they did it and hopefully can get the planes back in the air. Although w the reduced demand likely years before they are really needed

  5. I trust that the MAX is safe now but I’ll never fly on it again. Boeing’s greed killed people, I see no point rewarding that. I hope the MAX never becomes profitable.

  6. @ Gary — Of course changing the name will help. Most people don’t pay attention to such things and therefore won’t know the difference to difference between 737-800 and 737-8.

    Maybe Donald Trump should consider changing his name, maybe to Anita Wall. She can become the first woman President.

  7. I love your reference to that clip from the Wire! It’s an example of capitalism in its most pure and basic form… Thank you, Gary.

  8. “When the new purchase agreement is fully exercised, Enter Air’s 737 MAX fleet will rise to 10 aircraft.”

    Sure sounds like they’re still calling it the Max to me.

  9. To the people saying, “I’ll never board a 737 MAX.”

    You realize the 737 Classic had a rudder issue that caused two total fatal accidents in the US.

    This issue was fixed, and the plane hasn’t had the same issue since.

    You’ll fly the 737 MAX.

  10. Trump is a consummate liar, bankrupted businessman and career criminal. I hardly think he is worth using as an example in your blog.

  11. I’m still going to book away from it. On booking systems it will show up as 7M8 (737 MAX 8), 7M9 (737 MAX 9), etc. And just to be safe I’ll look out the window in the boarding area. If the engines have scalloped edges at the rear, and if the APU exhaust is round and not flat (as it is on the 737-800, etc.), I’m going to the gate agent and will say, “Put me on something else.” Or, safer, just be sure the equipment type is A319, A320, etc. Then if the airline is not all Airbus, still look out the window one more time.

  12. Transparent ploy by a company with no apparent common sense. However, anything that generates a quote from The Wire is a winner with me!!

  13. Does anyone know if Boeing was able to correct the issues (NOT issue, singular) for the aircraft?

    Have they actually identified the problems and solved them?

  14. Fraud.”.intended to deceive others,typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.”Hardly Capitalism, so why rebrand if not to deceive.346 reasons.?

  15. The airplane has always been safe . . . it’s the training at various levels that failed.

  16. Boeing has destroyed its goodwill, not just with passengers, but pilots as well. It’s going to take a long time for them to earn it back, if they ever do.

  17. Renaming is plain pathetic. Definitely not comparable to changing the name and colors of an airline. Yes, 99.9% will fly on it anyway. I, too, think it’s safe by now. But I definitely won’t say it was just a matter of bad training. In any case, We, The People of this blog, can definitely choose what to fly on. I might not often because it’s too tightly related to my budget. But the truth is I really wished there had been no Covid19 ever. It’d have most definitely been a permanent disability to Boeing as opposed to Airbus. They were greedy at our lives cost and I, too, wish MAX will never be profitable again.

  18. I’m confused here. Isn’t the real Max problem is that Boeing did not redesign the plane for the larger engines, that they hacked the software to compensate?

    Boeing does not have a good recent record at software design and they seem to put profits over engineering. Just my take from someone not in the industry.

  19. The 737-8 has always been the -8, the max is the family of planes including the -7,-8,-9, and -10. As a whole they are the 737 max, individualy they never had max as part of the name.

  20. Nope! All the bandaids and rebranding jingles in the world won’t fix an inherently flawed airplane.
    Maybe, once EASA certifies it. Maybe. But no way on only the word of FAA who was 50% of the problem in the first place.

  21. Unfortunately Boeing has always designed airplanes for “pilots” to fly. It will be impossible to design and build an airplane that is idiot proof but with 3rd world airlines they will have to try.
    Have you seen the final accident report from Indonesia or Ethiopia? No, and you probably never will so ask yourself why!
    When the FAA gets enough “blood” out of Boeing and certifies the changes Boeing has made, the 737MAX, -8 or ?, it will undoubtedly be the safest airliner flying, the media be damned!

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