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The 737 MAX 7 is the smallest of the four major variants in Boeing's 737 MAX product line; it is intended as the successor to the highly-successful 737-700, and features a higher fuel efficiency, considerably greater capacity, and increased range compared to the 737-700. Yet it is selling very poorly, with only 58 orders so far - and 23 of those 58 orders, from MAX 7 launch customer Southwest Airlines, have been deferred until the mid-2020s, raising the possibility that Southwest might cancel those 23 orders entirely.

Why are the airlines which enthusiastically jumped at the -700 balking at its successor, despite its being the longest-ranged 737 ever (the MAX 7 can fly for 7,130 kilometres before it needs to refuel), thanks to its increased fuel efficiency, and having a capacity of 138-172 passengers, as compared to the -700's 138-140 passengers?

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that this question is based on opinion. There are 100 customers for the MAX and there are reasons that only a few have ordered any of the -7. We may not have all the information but we should be able to provide a reasonable answer. We have similar questions like: Why is Airbus proceeding with both the A330neo and A350 XWB? $\endgroup$ – fooot May 21 '18 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ You may clearly indicate why you think the sells are poor. This may be done by comparing the current one to other similar aircrafts (other B737, A320, any other aircraft with similar capacity). In short, you should not say "poor" without comparing it to comparable figures if you don't want your question to be closed as "opinion-based" $\endgroup$ – Manu H May 22 '18 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind Southwest has a very long history of being hte launch customer for the latest 737 model. Going clear back to the Classic models. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 15 at 19:08
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While Boeing has delivered over 1,000 of the -700 version, popularity has gone down more recently. There were 101 delivered in 2007, and it declined sharply from there. Only 18 have been delivered since 2015, compared to 1,300 of the -800. So the recent sales performance of the two is not that different. The direct competitor is the A319neo, which has a similarly low number of orders.

There is new competition from the Bombardier CS300 (now Airbus A220-300), which carries 130 seats in a 2-class configuration, and the Embraer E195-E2, which carries 120 in a 2-class configuration. The 737-7 is a smallest version of the family so some of the operating costs are fixed by the larger models. Although the Bombardier/Airbus and Embraer planes have fewer seats, they are newer designs and the smaller size also helps to bring down the price and operating costs.

The 737-7 does have some advantages of being the smallest of the family including having the most range with standard fuel tanks. Airlines using the 737-700 version for its extra range might find that the 737-8 has the range they need while also carrying more passengers. Boeing also made the -7 a bit longer than the -700, so airlines might find that for the smaller difference they might as well just go with the larger version.

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    $\begingroup$ The 737-700 is not the Max7 in the question. $\endgroup$ – Pilothead May 29 '18 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ However, the 737-7 is. $\endgroup$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 15 at 19:06
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There are two reasons: the market changed, and seat economics favor larger aircraft.

The NG models were designed in the early 1990s, before much of the dramatic change in the air transport market wrought by deregulation and ascendancy of LCCs. Southwest for example, was using high frequency of narrowbody aircraft to attack the network carriers and drove the extinction of widebodies in domestic US air travel. Since the early nineties, airline traffic has more than doubled depending on how you count, and there is a maximum frequency that is appealing to travelers. If you have four flights a day on a particular route and you double traffic, you might decide that six is enough and use larger aircraft.

This is what Southwest is now doing, replacing -700 aircraft with Max8s. The Max8 acquisition and operating cost is only about 10% higher than the -700, but its passenger capacity is 25% greater. The math makes the smaller aircraft unusable, given that market demand now supports the larger aircraft. Ryanair came along later than Southwest and went straight to the lower seat cost of the larger aircraft. This is why even smaller aircraft like the Cseries are in trouble, forcing Bombardier to sell half of the program to Airbus for nothing.

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    $\begingroup$ The Cseries Airbus deal seems to be more to get assembly facilities in the US with the duty problems that they were facing. $\endgroup$ – Gert van den Berg May 22 '18 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @GertvandenBerg The Cseries had been in trouble due poor sales for years with only 375 orders in the nine years it was offered. 75 of those were tied up in the Delta dispute with Boeing, who was trying to kill the model off for good. Bombardier claimed they would get half of their projected 6000 units over 20 years, ie. 3000 units. Only 300 clear orders in nine years was a fifth of their plan, and they were bleeding cash. They had tried to sell some portion to Airbus a year earlier and were rebuffed. By late 2017 they had no choice and gave it away. $\endgroup$ – Pilothead May 23 '18 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ What's an LCC? xxxx $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Aug 21 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @rclocher3 Low Cost Carrier $\endgroup$ – Pilothead Aug 21 at 16:31
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There is nothing wrong.

Boing is hedging its bets by offering 4 737-MAX variants. Aircraft manufacturers doubtlessly ask their customers for their preferences, yet neither the manufacturers nor the airlines can gauge which aircraft will fit the market in 5 or 10 years.

There are also specific Airbus variants that sell poorly compared to their sibling-variants, e.g. the A-330 800/900 variants, which have 10 respectively 238 orders (by August 2019).

As long as an aircraft manufacturer offers a large enough variety of aircraft, either with distinct aircraft or aircraft variants, it will satisfy the needs of the airlines, which are hard to predict.

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