IAG Won’t Discount The Boeing 737MAX For Vueling

Parent company of Vueling, IAG, wont discount the 737 MAX for the airline’s future needs. The Spanish airline currently uses only Airbus jets, so a move to Boeing would be a big deal. It would come at a time when Boeing could use some solid support for its beleaguered plane.

vueling Airbus A320
All-Airbus Vueling could be moving to Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: Wikimedia

IAG are reportedly evaluating the 737 MAX for Spanish airline Vueling. In an interview with Aero Telegraph, CEO Willie Walsh elucidated on his confidence in the MAX, and explained how it could become a part of the Vueling fleet.

He said that he was confident that “Boeing will solve the problem”, and when asked how he would feel about traveling on one, he responded that he “would feel comfortable”.

Why a move to Boeing?

IAG are the parent company of a number of well-known airlines. These are Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level and Vueling. Between all the fleets under the IAG banner, there’s not one 737 MAX right now. In fact, the only Boeing aircraft to make an appearance are in the British Airways fleet, where there are a number of Dreamliners, 747s and 777s  in operation.

British Airways 747
IAG have ordered the 777X for British Airways to replace the 747. Photo: Pixabay

Walsh has always been a staunch supporter of Airbus, but recently moved away from the European manufacturer with a firm order for 18 777Xs from Boeing. Destined for British Airways, the 777X order comes with options for 24 more. These aircraft will replace the ageing Boeing 747-400s in their fleet, all of which are due to retire by 2024.

A move towards the 737 MAX is somewhat surprising, not least given the negative public perception of the aircraft right now. Previously, the IAG airlines have always relied on the A320 family for their narrowbody operations, with no less than 86 in the Vueling fleet, plus 16 A320neos.

Vueling A320
Vueling have historically relied on the A320 for narrowbody operations. Photo: Wikimedia

According to the Aero Telegraph interview, Walsh said,

“Given the scale of our operations, I see no reason why we should confine ourselves to Airbus. There seems to be an impression that we will always be a pure Airbus operator. But that is not healthy. There has to be competition between aircraft manufacturers.”

He went on to say that IAG had previously considered a switch to Boeing for Vueling, but at the time had thought the impact on operations would be too much. However, things have changed, and with both Vueling and IAG more mature and stable, Walsh thinks that the time could be right to reconsider the change. CH Aviation has also reported on the matter too.

What about the other airlines?

With the Boeing 737 MAX on the cards for Vueling, could IAG be considering it for their other airlines too? According to Walsh’s interview, it could, but only for one. British Airways may be next in line for the Boeing jet, as Walsh says they are considering adding it to the fleet.

Specifically, he says that they are considering using a different fleet from London Gatwick. BA are certainly in the market for a new narrowbody solution, as 22 of their fleet of 42 A319s are heading for retirement by 2023.

For the other IAG airlines, Walsh says the MAX makes less sense. Perhaps they’re holding out for the Airbus A321XLR?