Chinese carrier Shandong Airlines came into existence in 1994. Since then, it has amassed a sizeable fleet of well over 100 aircraft. Today, every single one of these comes from the popular Boeing 737 family. Let’s take a look at which variants it presently has at its disposal, as well as considering the future of Shandong Airlines as far as its fleet is concerned.
The Boeing 737NG series
According to data from ch-aviation.com, there are presently 134 aircraft in the Shandong Airlines fleet. Of these, 127 are examples of Boeing’s popular 737NG (‘Next Generation’) series. The dominant force here is the 737-800, which accounts for 124 of these 127 jets.
Shandong Airlines’ Boeing 737-800s have an average age of 8.9 years old. Impressively, ch-aviation’s data listed just four of them as being inactive at the time of writing. Historically speaking, Shandong Airlines has operated four further examples of this variant. Their layouts vary, with between 130 and 168 economy seats, and 8-12 in business class.
The other three Boeing 737NG series aircraft that Shandong Airlines presently has at its disposal are all examples of the smaller 737-700 variant. These are almost twice as old as their -800 counterparts, with an average age of 16.9 years. Each of them has 135 seats in an all-economy configuration, where a standard seat offers 31-32 inches of pitch.
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The 737 MAX remains inactive
The remaining seven aircraft in Shandong Airlines’ fleet are all examples of the new Boeing 737 MAX 8. These modern twinjets have an average age of just 2.9 years old, and can typically accomodate 176 passengers. This includes an eight-seat premium cabin.
However, the fact that China is yet to recertify the series for commercial service in its airspace means that all of Shandong Airlines’ MAX aircraft remain grounded. Four are in storage at Yantai Penglai (YNT), with the other three sitting dormant at Jinan Yaoqiang (TNA).
China has, however, begun to lay the foundations for the recertification of the Boeing 737 MAX series in the country’s airspace. For example, last summer, Boeing sent a test aircraft there for a series of proving flights.
China is yet to recertify the MAX, despite it undergoing tests there last summer. Photo: Getty Images
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Then, in December 2021, the Civil Aviation Administration of China drew up an airworthiness directive to advise airlines on how to be able to fly the type again. More recently, July 2022 saw Air China conduct a local MAX test flight.
Shandong Airlines also has a further 12 deliveries of the 737 MAX 8 to look forward to. This will bring its total fleet size for the type to 19 aircraft. However, it will likely have to wait for the type to be fully recertified in China before these deliveries can continue.
Away from Boeing, ch-aviation’s data shows that the carrier also has 10 examples of the Chinese-built COMAC ARJ21-700 on order. This model is a 90-seat regional jet design, and it will become Shandong Airlines’ smallest aircraft when the first example arrives.
What do you make of Shandong Airlines’ present fleet? Which of its Boeing 737s have you flown on? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!