(Adds details, comment from Boeing)
By David Shepardson and Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Bob Jordan said on Wednesday the carrier is not counting on deploying the Boeing MAX 7 plane this year, which is still awaiting certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
"We're dependent on Boeing. And there's progress. It's about six months between when it's certified and we can put it into service," Jordan told reporters at an Aero Club event in Washington. "We're not counting on it to be in service here in 2023."
Jordan said his "best guess" is it will be in service by Southwest in early 2024.
Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen earlier on Wednesday declined to comment on the timeline of when the agency might approve the MAX 7.
Boeing said it continues to work with the FAA to meet the requirements for MAX 7 and MAX 10 certification. "As always, we will follow global regulators' lead in the steps ahead on all certification matters," a company spokesman said.
Boeing, which has faced supply chain issues, delivered 69 planes to Southwest in 2022, down 45 jets from the 114 the company planned to deliver, Jordan said, adding Boeing has agreed to boost deliveries this year.
Boeing has unfilled orders of 388 737 MAXs for Southwest and 271 of those are for MAX 7s.
"Boeing is committed to 100 this year, so that's going to push aircraft into '24. The good thing is, it's really not having an impact on our capacity because right now the constraint is pilots," Jordan said. "The constraint is not aircraft. So until you get to early '24, it really doesn't change our capacity plan."
Jordan added that, if MAX 7 entry into service is delayed, Boeing will deliver additional MAX 8s to Southwest this year in lieu of MAX 7s. Boeing deferred to Southwest on its delivery plans for the company.
Congress late last year granted Boeing a waiver lifting a December deadline imposing a new safety standard for modern cockpit alerts for the MAX 7 and MAX 10, the new versions of the U.S. planemaker's best-selling 737 MAX aircraft.
Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said in January the planemaker thinks the first delivery for the 7 "will be this year and probably for the 10 the next year." (Reporting by David Shepardson and Valerie Insinna; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft)