Boost for Boeing: European airline giant firms up 737 MAX order

May 19, 2022

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It took nearly three years, but the International Airlines Group is finally moving forward on its order for the Boeing 737 MAX.

The parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level announced Thursday it will purchase 50 737 MAX 10s and 737 MAX 8-200s, along with 100 options. It’s a significantly smaller order than what was announced at the 2019 Paris Air Show, when a letter of intent was signed for 200 of the aircraft.

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That announcement was a show-stopping blockbuster: it was the first order for the troubled aircraft after its grounding in the wake of two accidents that killed 346 people, and showed the industry that there was still an appetite for the aircraft, albeit at what was likely the deepest of discounts.

The order is also notable because IAG’s airlines operate all-Airbus narrowbody fleets.

Thursday’s announcement did not state which of IAG’s airlines will receive the new 737s. The original 2019 announcement stated that the jets would go to its low-cost brands Level and Vueling. However in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Level has focused on long-haul flying. The order for the 737 MAX 8-200 — a 200-seat version of the 737 MAX 8 that’s specifically tailored to LCCs — makes it seem likely that Vueling will receive these aircraft.

“The addition of new Boeing 737s is an important part of IAG’s short-haul fleet renewal,” IAG CEO Luis Gallego said in a statement. “These latest generation aircraft are more fuel efficient than those they will replace and in line with our commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

More: Boeing lands blockbuster 737 MAX order, the first since jet’s grounding

“Today’s agreement for up to 150 airplanes, including 100 options, is a welcome addition of the 737 to IAG’s short-haul fleets and reflects our commitment to support the Group’s continued network recovery and future growth with Boeing’s unrivaled family of airplanes,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a statement.

In a somewhat unusual move for an aircraft order, this deal will now go to IAG’s shareholders for approval.

Featured photo by Chona Kasinger/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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