Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners, which buys airplanes for low-cost carriers operating in Asia, Canada and Australia, said Tuesday it has ordered another 30 Boeing 737 MAXs in addition to the 38 previously ordered this year.
Most of the newly added planes are the high-density version of the MAX, the 737-8-200 model, favored by Ryanair and other low cost carriers because it allows them to pack in extra seats to increase capacity to nearly 200 passengers.
The standard MAX 8 model flies with 175 seats for Southwest, for example. Ryanair configures its MAX 8-200s with 197 seats. For this model only, Boeing added a mid-cabin exit door, required by safety regulations for the increased passenger count.
Josh Wander, managing partner of 777 Partners, said in a statement that this high-density model will become the hallmark asset for low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers around the world.
“As travel demand returns, 777 Partners has accelerated our quest for efficiencies in both operating cost and carbon footprint at our operating carriers,” Wander said. “In these areas the 737-8 is compelling and the 737-8-200 is simply unrivalled.”
Based on market data from aircraft valuation firm Avitas, after standard pricing discounts the new order is worth about $1.4 billion.
After the two MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia and the 21-month grounding of the jet that followed, Boeing lost more than 1,000 orders for the MAX. Now that the jet is back in service, however, Boeing is slowly building up the order backlog again, with 583 gross orders this year through October.
Founded in 2015, 777 Partners began as a financial services business and subsequently has broadened its investments to include the media, entertainment and aviation industries.
Its portfolio of investments in low-cost airlines includes Flair in Canada, Bonza in Australia, and a collection of Asia Pacific airlines that includes Cebu Pacific in the Philippines, Jeju Air in South Korea, Nok Air in Thailand and Scoot in Sinagpore.
777 Partners first ordered the MAX in March, a deal that included 24 firm orders and options to purchase a further 60 of the jets. It has now exercised 44 of those options.