Aerolineas Argentinas will debut its first Boeing 737 Max 8 on revenue service on 1 December.
The SkyTeam Alliance airline expects to receive the aircraft in the coming weeks, and will take delivery of a second aircraft later this year. It will add another three 737-8s in 2018.
Aerolineas holds orders for 11 737 Max aircraft, after converting a portion of an existing 737-800 order to the Max.
The carrier will operate the aircraft on existing domestic and regional routes, although chief executive Mario Dell’Acqua says the airline plans to launch a new route to the Caribbean from either Buenos Aires or Cordoba with the 737 Max.
Aerolineas has yet to decide on the destination, he tells FlightGlobal. The airline only operates to Cancun and Punta Cana in the Caribbean from Buenos Aires, FlightGlobal schedules data show. It deploys an Airbus A330 aircraft on the route, but Dell’Acqua says that Aerolineas wants to rightsize its Caribbean service to the 737 Max.
“It will be more cost effective,” says Dell’Acqua. “The industry is going to be driven by cost, rather than speed or fancy things like a shower on board in my opinion.”
In the meantime, Aerolineas is continuing to evaluate its widebody needs. The carrier operates Airbus A330s and A340s on its long-haul routes, but is evaluating the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 as a replacement. Aerolineas plans to reduce its fleet of four A340-300s to two aircraft next year, and will phase out the remaining two by the end of 2018.
The airline is hoping to have a new widebody fleet starting in 2020, says Dell’Acqua.
“We will take one year to make up our minds and see which is the best plane, while taking into account the peculiar location of Argentina,” he adds. “We are far from everywhere else but at the same time, we are in between New York and Auckland.”