IAG signals intent to buy 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

British Airways logos are seen on tailfins at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain May 12, 2011. — Reuters pic
British Airways logos are seen on tailfins at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain May 12, 2011. — Reuters pic

PARIS, June 18 — US aircraft giant Boeing and British Airways owner International Airlines Group have signed a letter of intent for delivery of 200 planes of the 737 MAX type, the companies said today.

Boeing’s MAX aircraft have been grounded worldwide after two of them crashed within six months of each other, killing 346 people.

“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,” IAG CEO Willie Walsh said in a statement that came as a surprise at the Paris Air Show where aviation experts are still reeling from the industry-wide fallout of the accidents.

At the start of the show, Boeing’s head of commercial aircraft Kevin McAllister apologised for the crashes.

The US aerospace giant is battling to regain the trust of passengers, pilots and regulators after a 737 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air flight crashed last October, followed by an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March.

If today deal is converted into a firm order, it would be worth an estimated US$24 billion (RM100.2 billion) according to list prices.

IAG said the aircraft would be used by a number of its airlines including Vueling, LEVEL, and British Airways at London Gatwick airport.

IAG, also the parent company of Aer Lingus and Iberia, currently flies 582 aircraft to 268 destinations and carried 113 million passengers in 2018.

Boeing said IAG, whose single-aisle fleet is currently made up almost exclusively of Airbus A320 aircraft, was turning to the 737 MAX “as part of diversifying its future fleet to spur competition”. — AFP