Paris Surprise: Boeing Lands Blockbuster 737 MAX Order, the First Since Jet’s Grounding

Jun 18, 2019

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In a surprise development at the Paris Air Show, Boeing announced that it has received a huge new order for its troubled 737 MAX aircraft. That came from International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh, who announced late Tuesday that his organization intends to purchase 200 737 MAX jets.

According to a statement, the two companies had already been in discussions about the order and signed a letter of intent for the order at the air show. The order includes both the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 10, with IAG saying it expects to operate the aircraft with both LEVEL and Vueling.

The deal would be valued at more than $24 billion at list prices, though airlines typically negotiate steep discounts on large orders. However, given Boeing’s woes with the MAX, speculation will likely focus on just how big of a discount IAG received on its order.

“We’re very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s short-haul fleet,” Walsh said in a statement. “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators.”

Walsh and IAG’s order on Tuesday is the first order of the MAX aircraft since the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX aircraft crashed in February, killing all passengers on board. Since that incident — which followed the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX in late 2018 — all 737 MAX aircraft have been grounded worldwide.

Boeing is reportedly close to a fix for the aircraft, but it needs to be approved by regulators before being approved to reenter service.

IAG placed another order on Tuesday, but with rival manufacturer Airbus. That order consisted of 14 Airbus A321XLR aircraft, which will be heading to both Aer Lingus and Iberia.

Given the negative attention surrounding the MAX, it’s likely that Walsh got a steal of a deal on the price for the 200 737 MAX aircraft ordered on Tuesday.

The order is the largest for Boeing at the Paris Air Show, which to this point, had been highlighted by a 787 Dreamliner order from Korean Air.

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