What Happened To AirAsia’s Boeing 737s?

Nowadays, AirAsia is known as a bustling low-cost airline group operating an all-Airbus fleet. But did you the airline once flew the Boeing 737? In fact, it flew dozens of them during its early years. So what happened to these 737s? Let’s find out.

AirAsia operated the smaller Boeing 737-300 for over a decade before switching to the A320 family. Photo: M Radzi Desa via Wikimedia Commons

All fleet data in this article is courtesy of


AirAsia operated a total of 36 Boeing 737-300, also known as the ‘classic’ generation of the popular narrowbody. The carrier took delivery of its first 737 in November 1996, a few weeks before kicking off operations. Financial troubles meant the airline only took one more aircraft, in 1997, until 2001.

However, after being acquired by current CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia rebranded itself as the low-cost airline we know today. This saw a huge expansion in the 737 fleet and 10 new aircraft in 2003 alone, with more joining in subsequent years. In total, AirAsia operated 36 737-300s between 1996 and 2010.

AirAsia Indonesia Boeing 737-300
AirAsia’s subsidiaries in Thailand and Indonesia also operated the 737 alongside the mainline carrier. Photo: M Radzi Desa via Wikimedia Commons

However, in 2006, AirAsia opted to switch to an all-Airbus A320 operations. It quickly began ordering new planes and already had a 100 on firm order. As more A320s made their way to the fleet, the future of the rapidly aging 737-300s looked challenging. Here’s what happened.

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AirAsia’s first 737-300, registration 9M-AAB, was retired in June 2003. This aircraft went on to fly for Garuda Indonesia, Shenzhen Airlines, and is currently at Nauru Airlines. Considering this aircraft is under 25 years old, it likely has a few more years before its retirement.

While the pace of retirements was slow as first, in 2008, AirAsia decided to increase the rate. While only four aircraft exited from…

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