Caribbean Airlines 737 Max 8 and its choice

Caribbean Airlines will shortly get its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The maiden flight of a Boeing 737 Max 8 registered 9Y-CAL took off on June 13, 2021, and the second flight of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 registered 9Y-GUY took place today at Snohomish County Airport.

12 MAXs for Caribbean

Caribbean Airlines stated their plan to lease 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in  November 2018, with the first aircraft expected to arrive in December 2019. Nevertheless, these plans have been placed on hold after the fatal crashes of two MAX 8s in November 2018 (Lion Air 610) and March 2019 (Ethiopian Airlines 302), leading to a 20-month worldwide suspension.

The issue was ultimately traced to a malfunction in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The technology was developed to replicate the previous 737NG aircraft’s pitching tendency during non-normal flying. MCAs were ultimately redesigned from the ground up, with extra sensors installed to identify any possibly erroneous data sent into MCAS.

Photo from Woodys Aeroimages

Caribbean Airlines was obliged to extend contracts for some of its existing 737-800s temporarily to fill the vacuum created by the grounding. Consequently, the airlines had further difficulties when the COVID-19 epidemic began in early March 2020, almost eradicating air travel. The business moved from a profit of USD 6.7 million in 2019 to a loss of USD 103 million by the end of 2020, owing mostly to ongoing border restrictions in Trinidad and Tobago.

Apart from temporarily laying off employees, obtaining a USD 65 million loan, and running a base out of Barbados, the airline returned two 737-800s (registrations 9Y-SXM and 9Y-JMD) owing to contractual obligations. With 9Y-POS grounded since early 2020, the carrier was limited with nine 737-800s operating on a limited basis and seven ATR 72-600s.

Phasing out the 737-800

The Caribbean presently flies a fleet of 12 Boeing 737-800s between its Trinidad and Jamaica bases, however with the airline showing enthusiasm in buying MAX 8s to replace its aging fleet, it seems doubtful that the company’s existing batch of NGS would get a facelift.

Several of their NG leases have been extended temporarily, and the rumor mill indicates that just one may be painted until the MAX issue is resolved.

Caribbean Airlines is reducing its fleet and personnel.

The airline intends to eliminate 25% of its employees and significantly decrease its 17-strong fleet. The decision follows another significant loss for the airline, which necessitated long-term adjustments. Caribbean Airlines is considering a significant reorganization in the aftermath of disappointing first-quarter performance. The airline, which serves Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Guyana, experienced a whopping 75% decline in revenue during the first quarter of 2021. This resulted in a quarterly deficit of TT$172.7 million ($25.4 million), which was helped by significant expense reductions implemented last year.

About Caribbean airlines

With a seven-star rating from, the Trinidad and Tobago-based operator is among the region’s safest choices. Caribbean Airlines serves more than 24 cities in 20 countries, including Miami, New York, Orlando, and Toronto. Caribbean Airlines runs a fleet of 17 aircraft, including seven ATR 72-600 aircraft and ten Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

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