Boeing could not have chosen a better time to surprise the aviation market by announcing on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show that the IAG Group (International Airlines Group) signed a letter of intent to acquire 200 737 MAX, among variants -8 and -10, the highest capacity model.
IAG is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL that carry together more than 113 million passengers per year. But none of them have the 737 in their fleets today.
When he stated in recent days that he would fly aboard a 737 MAX without worry, Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG was not joking. In fact, the Irishman already anticipated his intention to count on the Boeing jet that should equip the low cost Vueling and LEVEL initially.
Walsh also included British Airways in that package. The airline has already operated hundreds of 737 in its history and will use it again on routes from Gatwick Airport. Imagine how the MAX will look in BA’s colors and does not require any effort after all, the South African company COMAIR flies with its 737 painted in the colors of the British company (photo above).
Sign of trust
Despite the announcement, the IAG Group and Boeing will still discuss the details of the deal for it to take effect. The company, however, already plans deliveries between 2023 and 2027, equipped with CFM’s Leap engine.
“We are very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s shorthaul fleet. 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,” said Willie Walsh.
The agreement with the IAG Group comes at a time when Boeing needs to demonstrate that the 737 MAX can be a reliable aircraft and that the manufacturer deserves a second chance after ignoring signs of problems with the jet that culminated in two fatal accidents.
Quite reluctantly, the planemaker has acknowledged their mistakes in dealing with these facts, but there is still a long way to go before the 737 MAX will fly again. But IAG was certainly able to recover the mood at Boeing.