Ukrainian start-up carrier SkyUp Airlines has signed a firm order for five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, comprising three 737 MAX 10s and two 737 MAX 8s. The agreement, valued at $624 million in list prices, also covers an option for five more 737 MAX airliners, the carrier reports.
With deliveries of the CFM International LEAP-1B-powered aircraft due to start in 2023, SkyUp thus becomes the first East European carrier to order the MAX 10 variant of the 737.
To be based at Kyiv, SkyUp expects to receive its air operator’s certificate this month and plans to begin charter operations in April with an initial fleet of two leased Boeing 737-800s and a single leased 737-700.
The carrier’s current plans call for its fleet to grow by two to three aircraft annually, reaching 12 by 2022. The airline says it is ordering the 737 MAX airliners to meet expected future demand on the Ukrainian market.
The airline was founded by Yuri and Tetyana Alba, the owners of Join Up! – one of the country’s major tour operators. CEO Eugeny Khainatsky previously worked for Ukrainian airlines AeroSvit and Air Onix, both of which have ceased operations.
The 230-seat Boeing 737 MAX 10s are likely to be used on charter flights to Turkey, Egypt, Spain, and some other international leisure destinations, Khainatsky says. The 189-seat MAX 8s will serve medium-haul flights.
“Distinctive dispatch reliability, low operational costs, and passenger comfort were the main factors for choosing the 737 MAX,” Khainatsky reveals.
“We are confident that this purchase will give us a competitive advantage and are also confident that our 737s will help this new airline to establish a robust position in the Ukrainian market and grow its presence and route network,” offers Marty Bentrott, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ vice-president for sales in Turkey, Russia, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Among other Boeing 737 MAX family existing and potential customers in Russia and the CIS are S7 Airlines, UTair Aviation, Kazakstan’s SCAT, Azerbaijan’s AZAL, and Belarusian flag carrier Belavia. Aeroflot is also believed to be considering the type.
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