Sunwing takes passenger comfort to new heights
Boeing 737 MAX 8 joins Sunwing fleet
Taking delivery of a new plane is always memorable, but add to this the ability to fly further and offer a better passenger experience, and you’ll understand why Sunwing executives are so excited to have two new Boeing 737 MAX 8’s in their fleet.
The MAX 8 is both fuel-efficient and passenger-friendly. Sunwing took delivery of its first MAX 8 on May 25 from Boeing in Seattle, and the second a week later.
The airline took the opportunity on its first delivery to host a group of travel industry personnel and Sunwing employees in Seattle. They were the first to fly on the new MAX 8 as it flew a non-revenue flight from Seattle to Toronto.
The two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft – identifiable by their split tip wingtips – are part of a lease agreement concluded with Air Lease Corporation in late 2014 – a $350 million deal that will see four more of the aircraft delivered by May 2019.
“The 737 MAX 8 aircraft is an integral part of Sunwing’s overall expansion plans across an increasing number of both Canadian and US gateways and illustrates the evolution of the company. We’re really excited. This is a big deal for us,” said Mark Williams, president of Sunwing Airlines.
He added, “Sunwing may have increased in scale, however, what drove the company in the early 2000s is still central to our business today – in particular, the airline’s commitment to its passengers that when they travel with Sunwing, they travel with an award-winning airline and one of Canada’s most modern fleets.”
John L. Plueger, chief executive officer and president of Air Lease Corporation, also welcomed the new aircraft, noting, “this state-of-the-art new aircraft will bring significantly expanded capability, efficiency and environmental friendliness to Sunwing’s growing network, as well as usher in a new level of customer service and experience.”
The aircraft is operated by CFM International’s new LEAP-1B engines, which are both more efficient and quieter than previous engines. According to officials, the new MAX aircraft reduces fuel burn by as much as 14% compared to other 737 aircraft, allowing Sunwing to fly further distances – up to an additional range of 500 nautical miles. It also allows the airline to operate full flights on such routes as Vancouver to the Eastern Caribbean. In the past, the airline has had to operate this flight with as many as 14 empty seats to reduce weight and conserve fuel.
The MAX 8 opens up the possibility of new routes for Sunwing, such as Vancouver-Panama or Vancouver-Costa Rica, but Williams would not disclose future plans.
A next-generation aircraft, the 737 MAX 8 will reduce Sunwing’s carbon footprint, using less fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by 20% compared to the older aircraft that it replaces.
Easily, the most notable change about the MAX 8 experience is how quiet it is – 40% quieter than its 737 predecessors.
The MAX 8 offers 189 passenger seats in a 3-3 configuration. Specially designed seats – which give the feeling of more room – and mood lighting all help improve the passenger experience, helping reduce flight fatigue.
“The new seat types sit on a diaphragm, feeling like you have two inches more leg room, even if you don’t,” said Williams. “It’s just the way they’re configured.”
One notable exclusion is the lack of a built-in inflight entertainment system or WiFi, but as Williams said, most passengers now travel with their own devices and watch their own content. And, new for Sunwing, each seat has a USB port allowing passengers to charge and use their personal devices during the entire flight. The Sunwing Airlines president noted that this is something that can be reassessed in the future if need be.
“I think it’s a great airplane. I’m really pleased,” said Williams. “The bottom line is about making money, and this aircraft will allow us to make more money.”
Sunwing operates from more than 30 airports across Canada to over 45 sun destinations across the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. It also offers a small domestic program and some service to Florida.