SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Johannesburg-based carrier Comair has taken delivery of the first 737 MAX 8, making it the first airline in South Africa to operate the new fuel-efficient jet, U.S. aircraft giant Boeing Company said.

Boeing said late Tuesday the delivery was the first of eight 737 MAX 8 aircraft ordered by the airline to expand its existing all-Boeing fleet, which includes 18 Next-Generation 737NG and seven 737 Classic airplanes.

Comair operates its aircraft on domestic routes under the franchise of British Airways to provide low-cost services to customers on a growing market for air travel in Africa.

A Boeing market forecast report said Africa will need about 1,200 new jets in the next 20 years.

"The arrival of the MAX 8 aircraft is a continuation of our fleet renewal program and builds on the most modern and efficient fleet in South Africa," said Wrenelle Stander, executive director at Comair's Airline Division.

The new 737 MAX 8 will allow Comair to save 14 percent more fuel with lower emissions and greater flying distance, Boeing said.

Boeing has received over 5,000 orders for the 737 MAX family jets from more than 100 countries and regions across the world, according to the company.