Boeing 737 Max needed for summer: How Sun Express is increasing its fleet

The Turkish-German holiday airline is optimistic about the coming year. Therefore, he increases the fleet in the summer. But the uncertainty is causing Sun Express to delay the 737 Max.

Business is booming at Sun Express. In 2021, the Turkish-German holiday airline offered the same capacity as in the pre-pandemic year of 2019. It was actually 101 percent. In the current year, he wants to reach 120 percent.

And so it should continue. In 2023, Sun Express expects as much as 135 percent. Max Kownatzki, the airline’s chief executive, said in Düsseldorf on Thursday (November 24th). According to the manager, there is little evidence of the war in Ukraine and the impending recession.

Eleven additional planes in the summer

“Inflation in Turkey is helping us increase demand,” explained the airline executive, who commutes between headquarters in Antalya and Frankfurt. Because travel to Turkey has become cheaper for Western Europeans with the associated weakness of the lira. Compared to Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, they are better value for money, according to Kownatzki.

Last summer, Sun Express flew 67 planes. 49 were part of the main fleet, six were leased with crew and twelve operated under lease with crew at Anadolujet. However, the cooperation with the subsidiary of Turkish Airlines will end at the end of this year. Four Boeing 737-800s Sun Express leases to American Airlines for the winter.

High leasing rates for the Boeing 737 Max

For the summer of 2023, Kownatzki announced: “We will add eleven more planes – seven in Antalya, three in Izmir, one in Ankara.” Five of these are said to be 737 Max, flying directly from Boeing. Two Boeing 737-800 leases are expiring. At the same time, the joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines will lease another eight aircraft, probably Boeing 737-800s, due to lower leasing rates.

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“We’re very happy with the 737 Max 8, we’re saving 16 percent in fuel,” Kownatzki said. But you also have to consider leasing prices. “Due to Boeing’s delay situation, Max lease rates are significantly higher.”

Can the manufacturer deliver in the summer?

Sun Express has ordered 42 examples of the 737 Max from Boeing itself and has already received nine of them. In the following years, it is expected to receive about five copies annually. While Kownatzki is confident it will work in 2023 as well, Boeing’s delayed Max deliveries could spell trouble for the airline.

“We are a very seasonal airline, so it is very important for us to have seats available until the summer,” explains Kownatzki. Therefore, according to delivery plans, the 737 Max should arrive in May and June. “Now, for the first time, there is a delay of one to a month.” It’s still under control. If the delays are delayed beyond the summer, a plan has been agreed with Boeing that will ensure that Sun Express will definitely have spare capacity in the summer.

Confidential Agreement with Boeing.

Kownatzki did not provide details on what that deal with Boeing looks like. For example, one could imagine that in the event of a late delivery, the manufacturer would have to pay to lease a replacement aircraft of the appropriate capacity.

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