After two years, eleven months, and one day, International Airlines Group (IAG) finally confirmed its intention to buy the Boeing MAX. The airline group said on May 19 that it will purchase 25 MAX 8200s and 25 MAX 10s, plus 100 options. IAG finally confirms MAX deal but for fewer aircraft.

On the second day of the 2019 Paris Airshow on June 18, IAG announced a Letter of Intent for up to 200 MAX 8 and -10 aircraft. That was in the early days of the MAX crisis following the grounding in March after the two fatal accidents. The LoI was seen as a morale boost for Boeing from one of the world’s leading airline groups, who still had confidence in the type despite having no clue how the MAX troubles would be solved.

Even after the MAX 8 and -9 were recertified again at the end of 2020, IAG failed to confirm its LoI and only said that negotiations were ongoing. It made Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary question if the IAG order was still on at all or if the group was having the same troubles as he had in getting the aircraft at a good price.

IAG says today in a brief media statement that it has negotiated “a substantial discount from the list price”, which it provides at being $120 million for the MAX 8200 and $130 million for the MAX 10. It expects to take delivery of the fifty aircraft on firm order between 2023 and 2027 and of the options between 2025 and 2028. If IAG will take only newly-built aircraft or gets MAX 8s that have been canceled by other customers isn’t known. The order is subject to approval from IAG’s shareholders.

Original LoI included the MAX 8 and -10

In the original LoI, IAG wanted the MAX 8 with around 178 seats and the MAX 10 with 230 seats. The firm order sees a preference for the MAX 8200 with up to 200 seats, bringing both versions closer together. The situation of the MAX 10 is unclear: if the type fails to be certified this year, Boeing risks being forced to do an extensive systems update under new US legislation. This could result in significant delays on entry into service.

The MAX will be placed with any airline within IAG, so British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, or Vueling. This is in line with what then-CEO Willie Walsh said in June 2019, when he stated that by acquiring the MAX, IAG would diversify its fleet to spur competition. When Walsh made his remark, IAG was not happy at all with the late Airbus deliveries and used Boeing as a stick to lever his position.

IAG has been a loyal customer of Airbus and operates a huge fleet of A320ceo and A320neo family aircraft. Most of the deliveries to Aer Lingus and BA have been completed, but Iberia and Vueling recently added or swapped orders for A321neo’s. In the distant past, BA, Aer Lingus, and Iberia used to operate the 737-200, 737 Classic, and an odd 737-800. 

“The addition of new Boeing 737s is an important part of IAG´s short-haul fleet renewal. 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”, Group CEO Luis Gallego says in a media statement. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said: “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.”

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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