Skymark Airlines: A Brief Look at the Japanese Carrier Ordering Boeing 737 MAXs

A rendering of 737-8 and 737-10 in Skymark livery. (Boeing Image) (PRNewsfoto/Boeing)

LONDON – Skymark Airlines plans to add 12 Boeing 737 MAXs to its fleet. From a failed Airbus A380 order to recovering from bankruptcy, let’s take a brief look at the carrier.

The airline has been around for 26 years today, having been founded on November 12, 1996.

Without further ado, let’s take a look into the Japanese carrier.

Brief Overview…

No machine-readable author provided. Shacho0822 assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As mentioned, the airline was founded on November 12, 1996, and commenced operations on September 19, 1998.

The airline started out operations with six Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and stayed with the carrier until 2009. They also had a 767-200 in 2003, having leased one from All Nippon Airways back in 2014.

In 2014, the airline introduced the Airbus A330-300 to its fleet before selling them to Air Europa and Turkish Airlines in 2015.

At the moment, the carrier has a fleet of 29 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with each one being able to carry 177 passengers.

Across that fleet size of 29, they currently service 11 destinations from their hubs of Haneda Airport and Kobe Airport.

The Airbus A380 Saga…

Gyrostat (Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA 4.0), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For those that have a good memory, back in 2011, Skymark placed an order for up to six Airbus A380 aircraft in what was seen as quite a change in its long-haul fleet strategy.

The first A380 for the carrier was built and completed in April 2014 and was sent to Germany for cabin installation. However, by May of that year, the Japanese carrier was having trouble with financiers who were helping support the order.

By June, Airbus had sent over a team to the Skymark offices to renegotiate the deal for better financial flexibility, but by July, the European planemaker had terminated the order over concerns of not being able to pay for the aircraft.

Airbus took Skymark to court, despite the fact that the Japanese carrier had already paid over 26.5bn Japanese yen for the aircraft. But with, the airline failed to meet contractual obligations and could have been fined up to 70bn yen in penalties.

In the end, three of the A380s went to All Nippon Airways following their order in late 2015, with the other two units sent for delivery with Emirates.

All-Boeing Strategy Continues…

Photo: Boeing

It does appear that Skymark Airlines has learned its lesson in terms of different fleet types, which can often be quite costly for an airline.

Earlier this week, it announced plans to add up to 12 737 MAX aircraft to its fleet as it looks to replace some of its older 737-800 aircraft.

The carrier intends to order four airplanes, including the 737-8 and 737-10 variants, with options for two additional jets. Separately, the airline will add six lessor-owned 737-8s to its fleet.

Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, commented on this specific order:

“As Skymark Airlines looks to sustainably grow its fleet, the 737 MAX family offers market-leading efficiency and environmental performance”.

“With commonality and enhanced capabilities, the 737-8 and 737-10 will enable Skymark Airlines to optimize its fleet across all operations.”

Sticking to all-Boeing, will keep the carrier’s costs lower and will give them a better financial position to work with as opposed to paying more for maintenance on a mixed fleet perspective.

It is an approach that most low-cost carriers around the world follow.


Photo: Boeing

Such an order is good news for Boeing and the MAX family. As for Skymark, this will enable them to go further with the aircraft that they will have in their fleet going into the future.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the airline is going to perform over the next few years and whether we could see more MAXs ordered once the first 12 have been delivered.

But for now, all eyes are on the carrier to get through the global recession and recover properly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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