- Stock Code:
- Date Founded:
- Dave Calhoun
- Headquarters Location:
- Chicago, USA
- Key Product Lines:
- Boeing 737, Boeing 747, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Boeing 777, Boeing 787
- Business Type:
The Boeing 737 single-aisle aircraft is the world’s most successful commercial plane. More 737s have been ordered than Boeing 747s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s, A220s and A330s combined. But as Boeing expanded the range into four generations, they began encroaching onto the territory of another of the manufacturer’s aircraft, the Boeing 757.
Both aircraft are designed for short-haul domestic travel; both carry 200-300 passengers; both are single-aisle twin engines. So how come one exited production almost 20 years ago, and the other became the most popular aircraft ever built?
The 737 has become the world’s most successful commercial plane. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
How to compare these aircraft?
With four generations of the Boeing 737 and two variants of the 757, it might seem a bit complicated to place them alongside one another for comparison. While it is indeed a bit tricky, a good place to start is with the two most popular variants of each aircraft. Plus, we will look at the specifications from an airline perspective rather than passenger experience.
We know that, up until now, the Boeing 737-800 has been the most popular variant of the 737 (but not the biggest). According to the company’s own website, it has amassed 5,632 orders. In contrast, the 757-200 is the most popular variant of that type, with 1,071 orders for the pure passenger variant.
Let’s see how they compare on some basic statistics.
- Boeing 737-800 – 162 passengers to a range of 2,930 nautical miles
- Boeing 757-200 – 200 passengers to a range of 3,900 nautical miles
Regarding passengers and range, the 757 easily takes the cake from the 737-800. The 757 can cross oceans and serve as an excellent point-to-point narrowbody aircraft, which is one of the reasons it completely changed air travel from mainland USA to Hawaii.
The 757-200 has a much greater range. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
What about the biggest 737 vs. the 757?
As we mentioned in the introduction, Boeing has been slowly expanding the 737’s range into the market of the 757. The specially designed for European budget airline Ryanair 737 MAX 200 variant can carry as many passengers as a 757-200.
So if we cherry-pick the largest passenger 737, we get these specifications:
- Boeing 737 MAX 10 – 230 passengers (one class) to a range of 3,300 nautical miles.
Thus, whilst the plane can carry as many passengers as a (smaller) 757-200, it still can’t go the distance. Meanwhile, were we to look for the highest range 737, the 737 MAX 7, with a range of 3,850 nautical miles, it still doesn’t make the grade, falling 50 nautical miles short.
The 737 MAX 200 carries the most passengers, but the MAX 7 has a longer range. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying
How much do they cost?
As it is no longer in production, the Boeing 757-200 is no longer on the manufacturer’s price list. When it was, it would go for over $100 million in today’s currency. Last year, its value was between $3.58 million and $11.27 million. The 737-800 is listed at $106.1 million, according to Statista, whereas the most expensive of the family, the 737 MAX 10, goes for $134.9 million.
Not that airlines pay list prices, but if you are a startup looking for a means of getting plenty of people across the Atlantic, you may opt for a second-hand 757 rather than a new and shiny MAX. Although, the latter does have a much better fuel efficiency, which would make up for a few million in no time, given today’s prices.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests!
So which is better?
The Boeing 737 fills a role in a high-demand market – passenger services with bespoke point-to-point destinations at high frequencies. As the more extended range coupled with lower capacity compared to dual-aisle jets has not been as essential, the Boeing 757 struggled to find a similar spot in the limelight.
As an airline, to choose between these two aircraft, a smaller 737 that could fly cheaper than the 757, or a harder to fill and more expensive to operate 757, the choice, as the order numbers would suggest, becomes pretty obvious. The 757 might be able to fly for longer and carry a few more people, but this was not enough to break out of the 737’s shadow.