The 737 Max program received a huge vote of confidence from one of the world’s most influential airlines at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday, when International Airlines Group (IAG) inked a letter of intent covering 200 Max 8s and Max 10s worth more than $24 billion at list prices.
Appearing at the show with Boeing Company CEO Dennis Muilenburg and Boeing CEO Kevin McAllister, IAG CEO Willie Walsh said the group would place the new Max jets mainly with subsidiaries British Airways, Vueling, and Level and fly them primarily out of London Gatwick Airport.
Walsh added that the group would consider using the Max as a means to diversify the future fleet to spur competition. IAG has long operated Airbus A320s as its exclusive narrowbody type.
“I know the aircraft very well and I know the company very well,” he said. “I’ve made no secret of my desire to see the Boeing narrowbody aircraft in our fleet.” Walsh characterized the negotiations as “tough,” but that he thought the sides had reached a fair conclusion.
“Like everybody, I’ve been paying close attention to what’s been happening with the aircraft since the tragic events with both Lion Air and Ethiopian,” he noted in response to a question about his confidence in the airplane. “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months.”
Boeing has promised to deliver the first airplane in 2023, but Walsh commented he would hope it could arrive in 2022. “We continue to work with Boeing on that,” he said.