Virgin Australia begins countdown to new Boeing 737 MAX jets

By David Flynn, February 8 2018
Virgin Australia begins countdown to new Boeing 737 MAX jets

Virgin Australia has started the countdown to delivery of the next-generation Boeing 737 MAX, which will mark the beginning of a refresh for the airline's domestic fleet.

With the first of some 40 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets due from the end of 2019, Virgin will be the first Australian airline behind the stick of this update to the airline's best-selling 737 family.

Despite the aircraft's A$144 million price tag, passengers won't notice much difference between the MAX 8 and the 737-800 – unless of course the MAX 8 comes loaded with Virgin's promised new 'quantum leap' business class seat.

The MAX 8 is the same size as the Boeing 737-800 and shares the same traveller-friendly traits such as large (and easier to use) overhead luggage bins, gently-curved cabin walls and LED lighting – all part of the streamlined ‘Boeing Sky Interior’ cabin, which is in turn based on the interior of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The only give-away will be the eye-catching wingtip, which adopts what the boffins call a 'split scimitar' design as part of the push towards refined aerodynamics and greater fuel efficiency.

And that's the kicker for Virgin Australia, which expects a none-too-shabby 13% cut in fuel burn – as well as a quieter ride and smaller noise footprint, due to the pair of high-efficiency engines strapped under the MAX's wings.

Qantas is also considering the Boeing 737 MAX as the logical replacement for its Boeing 737-800 workhorses sometime after 2022, although the competing Airbus A320neo family is also in the frame.

Read more: Qantas eyes Boeing 737 MAX, Boeing 797 for domestic fleet


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 739

Now there's a pretty bird.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 707

Will this end up being the aircraft that we could see the Perth Lie Flat seats on?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2547

I think that’s dependent on the timetable, both for Virgin’s debut of the new seats (which in turn hinges on new Asian routes opening up, as they’ll need the A330s which in turn drives desire for new Boeing 737 “Perth product”) and delivery schedule for the 737 MAX (eg how long it’ll take Virgin to get the number of aircraft it needs for that east-west roster).

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1174

I'm still wondering how many of these will be converted to MAX-10s which will allow for the larger J class without sacrificing Y class seats.


22 Dec 2012

Total posts 35

Pretty plane. Wish they had made it slightly wider. I've spent too many hours in virgins narrow 737 pews.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

"Qantas is also considering the Boeing 737 MAX as the logical replacement for its Boeing 737-800 workhorses sometime after 2022, although the competing Airbus A320neo family is also in the frame."

I find it highly unlikely that QF will spend the money retraining all of their 737 pilots to the A320. I think the decision is already made (as was the same for VA).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 129

It is indeed very unlikely that Qantas will spend the money to retrain pilots - if a deal was reached for Airbus A320s to replace a fleet of 737s it would be Airbus that pays the training cost.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 34

It's not hard to re-train pilots given the long term economy of scale of single fleet program. Don't forget that Qantas already has Airbus pilots, do you don't need to re-train anyone. You simply do a conversion course and provide upgrades to 737 pilots to go on to 787s and Airbus A380/A330 crew to fly on A320/A321. It's that simple.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

Exactly. This is what everyone seems to forget...


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 869

Heaps of new model planes keep coming out, so what happens to all the old ones? Back in the late 90's we were laughing about seeing a Fokker 50 in Panama and under the paint you could make out the TAA decals

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 93

I wouldn’t hold my breath about the so called “quantum leap” lie flat seats in J. I would imagine they will take the easier and cheaper option given the parlous state of the airline.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 372

13% gain is pretty impressive for what is essentially a 1960's plane

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

13 Jan 2017

Total posts 33

Essentially a 1960's plane?
I think not.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 319

That's if VA still manages to hold on by 2019 depending on the future of 2 of their 3 airline shareholders that are in financial trouble themselves.

In addition to the rumours of the remaining airline group shareholder (That is making money with their mainline carrier) wanting out of VA to fund their own underperforming subsidiaries.

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

So no new aircraft until Nov 2019? And even a decrease in fleet as 1 older 738 replaces 2 Tigerair A320s? I feel I'm missing a piece of the puzzle.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2016

Total posts 23

VA have recently received about 6-8 new 737-800s over the past few months so that allows the older ones to go to tiger.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 May 2013

Total posts 22

NO, Tiger fly the A320's, which I prefer because the seats are at least an inch wider. I think the A320's are a tad quieter as well.

I would like to see Qantas buy

Air Canada - Aeroplan

02 Sep 2015

Total posts 16

The 737 fuselage has been unchanged through 707, 727 and 757. The A320 fuselage is 7 in wider, 1 in on each seat and 1 in on the aisle. The 737 Max9 is being killed by the A321 neo and Boeing are now trying to fight back with a possible new. NMA

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 5

A pity Borghetti doesn’t try flying in the back row of a 737

They might be good for airlines but like the airbus 3:3 layout planes are the most passenger horrible planes for a couple in economy
The A330 does it much better especially for transcontinental flights and many would be happy to pay more for this

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