The International Airlines Group would like its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft delivered in 2022 according to CEO Willie Walsh. IAG is yet to actually order the aircraft but issued a letter of intent for 200 of the aircraft at the 2019 Paris Air Show.
The Boeing 737 MAX is currently suffering arguably the most high profile aircraft grounding of all time. As such, it came as a surprise when IAG announced intent to order 200 of the aircraft in June. Now, the group’s CEO, Willie Walsh, wants to bring a proposed first delivery forward from 2023 to 2022 following discussions with Boeing.
Why could IAG order the MAX?
The IAG Boeing 737 MAX letter of intent came as a surprise for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, the Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded since mid-March. Airlines are currently unable to receive the aircraft prompting Boeing to commandeer staff car parks for storage. With uncertainty as to when the MAX grounding will be lifted, it took everybody by surprise that such an order would be considered.
Secondly, IAG currently exclusively uses Airbus A320 family aircraft for narrow-body operations. While British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus have all previously operated the Boeing 737 in their histories, none of them currently do. It is possible to see the Boeing 737 in the British Airways Chatham Dockyard livery, however. You just need to look at their South African franchise, Comair.
According to Reuters, IAG is now looking at bringing deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX forward to 2022. Originally, per IAG’s letter of intent, deliveries of the aircraft would take place between 2023 and 2027.
However, according to the publication Willie Walsh elaborated on the topic during an earnings call. He said: “We are having very constructive discussions with Boeing. We are looking at bringing forward the delivery to 2022, which we think will be possible”. Before adding: “We remain confident that the issues will be addressed by the safety regulators”.
What would IAG use the Boeing 737 MAX for?
If IAG’s letter of intent is converted to a firm order, the group would have 200 more narrow-body aircraft. According to the letter of intent IAG would be purchasing both the Boeing 737 MAX-8 and MAX-10 aircraft. However, a Boeing press release failed to indicate the split between models.
Boeing’s press release on the matter also told how the Boeing 737 MAX order would be split between LEVEL and Vueling. LEVEL is IAG’s low-cost start-up airline offering both short and long haul flights. Meanwhile, Vueling is another low-cost airline based in Spain.
Despite the Boeing press release stating that IAG’s two low-cost airlines would be taking the Boeing 737 MAX, a press release issued by the International Airlines Group begs to differ. In their press release on the matter, they state “It is anticipated that the aircraft would be used by a number of the Group’s airlines including Vueling, LEVEL plus British Airways at London Gatwick airport.”
The letter of intent has no binding for IAG to actually purchase the Boeing 737 MAX. However the fact that Willie Walsh is trying to speed up delivery hints that the group is serious about the order. Maybe one day we will see British Airways Boeing 737 MAXs operating from London.
What do you make of Mr. Walsh’s comments? Let us know in the comments!