IAG signs letter of intent to purchase 200 Boeing 737MAX

The second day of the Paris Air Show begins with a ray of hope for the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

The Paris Air Show has entered its second day today. Yesterday the eyes were focused on how many orders the aircraft manufacturers would receive this year. The big winner on the first day was Airbus. In just a few hours, the manufacturer won no less than 132 orders and 6 options. These included the order placed by Virgin Atlantic for 14 Airbus A330neo aircraft and the lease company Air Lease Corporation, which placed 27 orders for the Airbus A321XLR. The latter is expected to be very popular as it can be used on long-haul routes up to 4,700 nm (8,704 km). This allows airlines to operate long routes with a low load factor and thus make the connection profitable. The catalogue value of these 132 orders would amount to more than 15 billion dollars.

Furthermore, Embraer received 20 orders and 19 options on the first day. These all come from the American airline, United.

More attention was paid to the order book of the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing. They had to deal with only 2 orders and 25 options. However, this small number is not so strange. Boeing has received several external shocks lately. Not only the 2 crashes of the Boeing 737MAX weigh heavily, but also different factory locations were investigated. There are rumors that there is a lot going wrong with the production of the larger Boeing 787 Family. Boeing completely denies this. However, it does admit that for about 1% of the 787s delivered, there is a problem with the extinguishing system in the engine. The company had also to admit that the MCAS system in the 737MAX is faulty. This system keeps the nose of the aircraft down when it is pushed up. This would happen in different circumstances, because Boeing has hung new engines under the 737 which are bigger.

Confidence in Boeing and especially in the 737MAX must be restored and they are doing everything they can to fix this.

Today it looks like the tide has turned. Many aviation sympathizers are watching Paris Air Show with big eyes. Boeing is suddenly back in the race to get big orders. The most striking thing is that the monster order of 200 pieces is destined for the 737MAX. The British-Spanish multinational airline holding IAG signs a letter of intent for the order of no less than 200 Boeing 737MAXs. IAG is the parent company of British Airways and the Spanish company Iberia. The order would be a mix of 737MAX-8s and 737MAX-10s. It is very noteworthy that IAG is placing this order because the entire narrow-body fleet consists of the Airbus A320 Family. It is also striking that the holding company chooses ‘the problem aircraft’. According to the catalogue values, this order would be worth 24 billion dollars. However, with such a large order, airlines get a substantial discount and most likely Boeing will give an extra discount to sell the 737MAX back to the market.

Where the MAX will fly within the holding company is not yet fully known. IAG does indicate that both Vueling and Level (both belonging to the company) will certainly use this aircraft int he future. The purchase of this large number of aircraft is largely to increase the fleet.

We must be aware that this is just a declaration of intent and not yet a final order. IAG may still change its mind. However, it is assumed that IAG will confirm the order once the problems with the 737MAX have been solved. Boeing also states that they are impressed by the leadership at IAG and let’s hope that several other airlines will follow suit.

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Robin Van Acker
Robin Van Acker
Photojournalist - An avid aviation photographer, Robin contributes to the Commercial Aviation section of the publication, with a focus on liveries, new aircraft deliveries and route development