Home Classic Airliners Who is still flying Classic Boeing 737s?

Who is still flying Classic Boeing 737s?

by Nigel Richardson

Boeing started to develop the second generation Boeing 737 Classic series in 1979. Three versions emerged: the 737-300, 737-400 and 737-500.

The new series featured a digital flight management system, including auto-throttle and an electronic flight instrumentation system or ‘glass’ cockpit. The main difference between the new series and the original 737 series is the engine type: the new Classic series was supplied with CFM56-3B (or -3C) turbofan engines which provide significant improvements in fuel efficiency and noise reduction. These larger engines had to be mounted forward of the wing rather than below and have a distinctive non-circular, flat-bottom shape of the air intake. The wing tips were also extended by nine inches, resulting in a wingspan of 94ft 9in and the wings, wheels, tyres and brakes were all strengthened.

Boeing 737-382, CP-2551, of Boliviana de Aviacion. (Renato Spilimbergo Carvalho, distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)

The 737-300 was the first variant of the Classic series to be developed. It is 9ft 5in longer than the 737-200 and can accommodate up to 126 passengers in a two-class seating configuration. It was rolled out at Boeing’s Renton plant on 17 January 1984 and made its maiden flight on 24 February. FAA certification was received on 14 November 1984, following a 1,300hr flight test programme, and the first deliveries were made to USAir and Southwest Airlines at the end of November, with the latter being the first carrier to put the 737-300 into service on 7 December 1984. A total of 1,113 aircraft were produced.

Boeing 737-436, 9H-ZAZ, of Air Horizont. (Anna Zvereva, distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence)

The 737-400 was launched in 1985. It was stretched by 10ft compared to the 737-300 and has a tailskid to protect the longer fuselage from tail scrapes during take-off. It can accommodate up to 147 passengers in a two-class configuration. The first flight of the 737-400 was on 23 February 1988 and it entered into service on 1 October with Piedmont Airlines. Boeing produced 486 737-400s.

Boeing 737-522, LY-KDT, of KlasJet. (Darius Kenstavičius, distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence)

The 737-500 is the smallest variant of the 737 Classics. It is 101ft 9in in length (1ft 7in longer than the 737-200) and has seating for 110 passengers in a two-class configuration. The 737-500 made its maiden flight on 30 June 1989 with the first deliveries to Southwest Airlines on 28 February 1990. A total of 389 aircraft were built.

Production of the 737 Classics came to an end in February 2000 following the introduction of the Boeing 737 Next Generation (737NG) series from 1997 as an upgrade of the Classic series. However, 737 Classics continue to be operated in commercial service as passenger-carrying aircraft and freighters for a range of carriers predominantly based in Europe, South America, Africa and South and Central Asia.  A small number of Classics undertake military and VIP transport roles.

According to Planespotters.net and PlaneBase.biz, current operators of the 737 Classic variants in a commercial capacity (passenger-carrying and freighters), with numbers of active aircraft in brackets, include:



Boeing 737-3U3, G-GDFO, of Jet2. (Nigel Richardson)

243 aircraft currently active (120 passenger-carrying, 123 freighters) plus 39 parked.



2Excel (1)
Aeronaves TSM (2)
Aerosucre (1)
Africa Airlines (1)
Africa Charter Airline (3)
Air Inuit (1)
Air Peace (5)
Airfast Indonesia (1)
Airlink (1)
Airwork NZ (3)
ALK Airlines (2)
Aloha Air Cargo (4)
Armenia Airways (1)
Asia Cargo Airlines (3)
ASL Airlines France (2)
ATA Airlines (2)
Avia Traffic Company (4)
Azman Air (2)
Badr Airlines (1)
Belavia (1)
Black Stone Airlines (2)
Boliviana de Aviacion (4)
Bul Air (3)
Cally Air (2)
Canadian North (9)
Cargo Air (3)
Central Airlines (5)
China Central Longhao Airlines (5)
China Postal Airlines (7)
Dana Air (1)
Electra Airways (1)
Estafeta Carga Aerea (1)
Estelar Latinoamerica (2)
Express Air Cargo (1)
Fly Jordan (2)
FlyPersia (2)
FlyDamas Airline (1)
Ghadames Air Transport (2)
Gomair (2)
iAero Airways (6)
Interjet West (1)
Iranian Naft Airlines (1)
Jayawijaya Dirgantara (1)
Jet2 (6)
Jordan Aviation (2)
Kalitta Charters II (5)
Kam Air (5)
Karun Airlines (2)
Kenya Airways (2)
KlasJet (2)
Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (1)
Lumiwings (1)
Magnicharters (7)
Max Air (3)
MENA Cargo Airlines (1)
Modern Logistics (2)
My Indo Airlines (4)
My Jet Xpress Airlines (4)
Nauru Airlines (4)
Nolinor Aviation (1)
Nordstar Airlines (1)
Northern Air Cargo (1)
North-Western Cargo (1)
PSI Air 2007 (2)
Qantas Freight (3)
Rimbun Air (2)
Rutaca Airlines (2)
Saha Air Lines (1)
SCAT Airlines (3)
Sepehran Airways (2)
Serve Air Cargo (4)
SF Airlines (14)
Sideral Air Cargo (7)
Sky High (1)
Star Air Cargo (5)
Star Peru (5)
Sudan Airways (1)
Sunkar Air (2)
Swiftair (1)
Tarco Air (3)
Terra Avia (1)
Texel Air (1)
Trans Air Congo (1)
Trigana Air Service (8)
TUM Aerocarga (1)
UR Airlines (1)
Varesh Airlines (2)
Vision Air Pakistan (2)
West Atlantic UK (3)
Loong Air (3)
Sierra Westa Airlines (2)




Boeing 737-4Q8, TC-TLA, of Tailwind Airlines. (Aero Icarus, distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Licence)

235 aircraft currently active (62 passenger-carrying, 173 freighters) plus 26 parked.


AerCaribe (3)
Aero Contractors (2)
Aeronaves TSM (7)
Aeroregional (1)
Air Ghana (1)
*Air Horizont (5)
Air Mediterranean (2)
Air North (1)
Air Seven (2)
Airwork NZ (12)
***Albawings (4)
Allied Air Cargo (3)
AlMasria Universal Airlines (2)
Aloha Air Cargo (1)
Ariana Afghan Airlines (2)
ASL Airlines Belgium (17)
**ASL Airlines France (3)
ASL Airlines Ireland (12)
Aviation Horizons (2)
Avior Airlines (2)
Azul Cargo (1)
Bluebird Nordic (5)
Buraq Air Transport (1)
Canadian North (4)
Cargo Air (7)
*Caspian Airlines (1)
China Central Longhao Airlines (1)
China Postal Airlines (8)
Copenhagen Air Taxi (2)
Daallo Airlines (1)
DHL Aero Expreso (2)
*Estafeta Carga Aerea (6)
FlySafair (5)
GP Aviation (2)
Green Flag Aviation (1)
iAero Airways (15)
*Iran Aseman Airlines (2)
Kalitta Charters II (7)
*Kargo Xpress (1)
K-Mile Air (3)
Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (1)
Liza Transport International (1)
Mesa Airlines (3)
*Modern Logistics (1)
My Indo Airlines (1)
My Jet Xpress Airlines (1)
Nolinor Aviation (3)
Northern Air Cargo (3)
Poste Air Cargo (5)
Qantas Freight (1)
Raya Airways (1)
Sepehran Airlines (2)
SF Airlines (3)
Sideral Air Cargo (7)
Sky Mali (1)
Swiftair (10)
*Taban Airlines (1)
Tailwind Airlines (5)
Tarco Air (3)
Tianjin Air Cargo (2)
Total Linhas Aereas (1)
TUM Aerocarga (2)
Turpial Airlines (3)
UR Airlines (1)
UT Air (6)
West Atlantic UK (7)
World Cargo Airlines (1)

* operating some aircraft for DHL

** operating some aircraft for FedEx

*** operating aircraft for Parcelair and Toll Aviation



Boeing 737-524, PK-NAT, of NAM Air. (Fire Law Stone, distributed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence)

70 aircraft currently active (64 passenger-carrying, 6 freighters) plus 26 parked.

Aero Contractors (2)
AeroRegional (2)
Africa Charter Airline (1)
Air Dilijans (1)
Air North (4)
Air Peace (4)
Alexandria Airlines (1)
ATA Airlines (1)
Azman Air (3)
Badr Airlines (5)
Bakhtar Afghan Airlines (1)
Buraq Air Transport (1)
Caspian Airlines (2)
Dynamic Aviation (2)
Kaiser Air (1)
Kam Air (1)
Klasjet (3)
Libyan Express Air(1)
Marsland Aviation (1)
NAM Air (2)
SCAT Airlines (1)
Sepehran Airlines (3)
Shirak Avia (2)
Sideral Air Cargo (2)
Sierra Pacific Airlines (2)
Sky Mali (1)
Sriwijaya Air (1)
Transair (1)
Trigana Air Service (1)
UT Air (13)
Varesh Airlines (4)


Title image:

Boeing 737-319(SF), N303KH, of Aloha Air Cargo. (André Du-pont (Mexico Air Spotters), distributed under a GFDL 1.2 Licence)


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1 comment

MERVYN CROWE July 13, 2023 - 5:45 am

Great history of the 4 ”classic ” types, and I have flown on all 4 versions. Interestingly, the photo of the BOA 737-300 CP-2551, my wife and I flew on it 07/06/2012 Sucre/Cochabamba/ LaPaz, and a terrific flight it was too, and actually great cabin service and on time !


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