THE airline group that owns British Airways is planning to buy 200 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, the company announced today.
This is despite the fact that the scandal-hit model has been grounded since March this year after two deadly crashes.
International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling and LEVEL, and is one of the largest airline groups in the world has signed a letter of intent at the Paris Airshow.
While not final, the deal is estimated to be worth upwards of £24 billion (£19 billion) based on list prices.
IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh said of the 737 Max: “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months”.
Mr Walsh, a former 737 pilot, said he would have “no hesitation” in flying on the plane, and voiced confidence in its safety.
Boeing’s top-selling plane has been grounded since an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed in March, five months after a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 plunged into the sea off Indonesia.
A total of 346 people died in the two disasters.
IAG is planning to buy both the Max 8, which seats 178 passengers, and the larger Max 10, which sits 230 passengers.
However, it hasn’t said how the orders will be split.
The plane is for the 200 aircraft to be delivered between 2023 and 2027.
Boeing is locked in negotiations with regulators to get a modified version of the plane flying again.
Boeing’s head of commercial airplanes Kevin McAllister said in response to IAG’s support: “We can’t thank you enough for the confidence you placed in the Boeing family.”
IAG said it planned for the mix of 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft to be delivered between 2023 and 2027.