Will airlines rebrand the 737 MAX.
When one of your major customers speaks, you listen. And for Boeing, that happened on Monday.
“We’ve asked Boeing to get rid of that word MAX. There’s no reason why Boeing can’t call it a 737-8, 737-9, 737-7”.
So said Steven Udvar-Házy, the chairman and founder of Air Lease Corporation, in remarks on Monday at the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference in Dublin. The billionaire (three times over) pioneered the aircraft leasing industry. Air Lease Corporation owns hundreds of aircraft from most major planemakers, and leases them out to airlines everywhere.
The firm, publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, owns more than 100 Boeing 737s. Fourteen of those are the grounded MAX model. Notably, Air Lease has commitments to buy more than 150 additional MAX planes plus options to buy 45 more, according to its public filings. Udvar-Házy is a heavy hitter in aviation.
“The MAX brand is damaged and there’s no reference to MAX in any of the documentation that Boeing submitted to the regulators, it’s just the 737”, he said, according to media reports.
“I think that word MAX should go down in the history books as a bad name for an aircraft”, he added, according to Reuters.
The marketers and sales team at Boeing’s commercial aircraft division will have paid close attention. It’s not the first time that Boeing has received high-level advice on its branding. In April, President Trump tweeted: “…If I were Boeing, I would FIX the Boeing 737 MAX, add some additional great features, & REBRAND the plane with a new name”.
At the time, Boeing said it would not rename the aircraft. But that may change.