Boeing and Oneworld alliance member Japan Airlines (JAL) have finalised an order for 21 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The new Max aircraft will replace the Japanese flag carrier’s 737-800 fleet.

Today’s JAL commitment follows an order for 20 737 Max 8, plus 10 options, from other Japanese major, All Nippon Airways (ANA), placed last year.

JAL says the “versatile” Max 8 will position it to strengthen its domestic and regional network as passenger traffic continues to return to pre-pandemic levels.

JAL intends to begin introducing the 737 Max 8 into its fleet from 2026.

“We are delighted to select the Boeing 737-8, a member of the very latest 737 MAX family, to replace our Boeing 737-800s, which make up the largest proportion of the JAL Group’s fleet,” said Yuji Akasaka, president of Japan Airlines.

“We look forward to carrying our passengers in the utmost safety and comfort and to moving closer to our 2050 carbon-neutral goals, thanks to a combination of these super-efficient aircraft, operational innovations and new fuel-saving technologies,” he added.

JAL says the 737 Max will provide it with greater range and fuel efficiency, reducing both fuel use and carbon emissions by 15% compared to the aircraft the airline is replacing.

In addition, the 737 Max is a quieter airplane, creating a significantly smaller noise footprint than the aircraft it replaces.

“The integration of the new 737 MAX will provide JAL with greater efficiency across its short-haul network, as the airline continues to upgrade its world-class fleet,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Partnering with JAL to introduce 737-8s into its operations is the latest milestone in our longstanding relationship.”

The 737 Max family features the latest CFM International LEAP-1B engines, advanced technology winglets and other aerodynamic enhancements to improve performance.

More than 50 airlines globally are currently operating over 900 737 Max aircraft, which have made over 1.4 million revenue flights totaling more than 3.5 million flight hours since late 2020.

JAL was founded in 1951 and became the first international airline in Japan.

The flag carrier now reaches 411 airports in 60 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners with a modern fleet of 241 aircraft, including Airbus A350 programme aircraft.

JAL Mileage Bank (JMB), the airline’s frequent flyer programme, is one of the largest mileage programmes in Asia.