Canadian discounter WestJet is expanding its fleet of leased jets, with plans this year to begin operating a Boeing 737 Max 8 leased from aircraft finance company AerDragon.

The news comes just days after WestJet separately disclosed plans to bolster its fleet with three 737 Max 8s leased from Chinese lessor BOC Aviation.

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Source: Tom Podolec

The airline is acquiring the aircraft amid a slowdown by Boeing in production and deliveries of 737 Max. The aircraft manufacturer pulled back its production pace earlier this year in a bid to fix nagging quality problems.

WestJet does not cite delivery delays as a factor behind its decision to acquire more leased aircraft. The carrier’s chief financial officer Mike Scott says: “Every aircraft added to our fleet means critical air access for Canadians and today’s announcement further reaffirms our mission to provide affordable air travel”.

All-737 operator WestJet has 122 of the Boeing narrowbodies (including 37 Max 8s and 85 737NGs), and holds outstanding orders for 63 more 737 Max, including the 7, 8 and 10 variants, according to Cirium data.

The airline expects to begin operating the aircraft leased from AerDragon this year.

“In partnership with AerDragon, we are adding to our Boeing 737 Max family and building momentum towards supporting our capacity growth plans for 2024,” Scott adds.

On 3 June, WestJet disclosed plans this year to begin operating the three 737 Max 8s leased from BOC.

WestJet says the cabins of the four leased jets will not initially match those of its other 737s. The airline is not more specific, saying “the aircraft will not immediately reflect the interior cabin experience synonymous with the WestJet Group.”

“Updating and refreshing the interior cabins of the aircraft will be prioritised as part of the airlines’ existing fleet reconfiguration plans, to ensure a consistent experience for guests across its operation as soon as possible,” WestJet says.