PARIS - Coming into the Paris Air Show, there was speculation that a deal might be in play to jump start the beleaguered MAX lines of aircraft after they were grounded world wide this spring following the second of two tragic disasters related to an issue with the American aerospace power's MCAS system. The deal turned out to be more than rumors, and it turned out to be a quite sizable deal.
International Airlines Group (IAG) and Boeing have announced that IAG plans to purchase 200 MAX jets. The two companies said they have been in discussions regarding the possible purchase, and signed a letter of intent at Paris.
IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL that fly more than 113 million passengers a year combined. The group has been a long-time operator of Boeing twin-aisle airplanes. Earlier this year, IAG group committed to and finalized a major order for Boeing's newest long-haul model, the 777X, to complement its fleet of current-generation 777s and new 787 Dreamliners.
In the single-aisle segment, IAG and its affiliates used to operate Classic 737 aircraft. Today, its fleet is almost exclusively Airbus A320 family aircraft. IAG CEO Willie Walsh has said the group would consider the 737 MAX as part of diversifying its future fleet to spur competition.
"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," said Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive. "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."
In other Boeing news coming out of Paris, China Airlines also announced the airline's intent to order up to six 777 Freighters to modernize its cargo fleet, while Qatar Airways committed to purchasing five 777 Freighters.
The 777 Freighter is capable of flying 4,970 nautical miles (9,200 km) with a maximum payload of 102,010 kg (224,900 lbs). The airplane will allow China Airlines to make fewer stops and reduce associated landing fees on these long-haul routes, resulting in the lowest trip cost of any large freighter and superior ton-mile economics. In addition, the 777 Freighter features market-leading capacity for a twin-engine freighter, accommodating 27 standard pallets, measuring 96 inches by 125 inches (2.5 m x 3 m) on the main deck. This allows for lower cargo handling costs and shorter cargo delivery times.
Boeing also inked a freighter deal with ASL Aviation Holdings DAC for 20 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters.