IAG, The parent company of British Airways, signs an LOI for 200 Boeing 737 MAXs

The 53rd Paris Air Show is quite unusual. While every air show previous to this was a commercial battleground between Airbus and Boeing, this year Boeing’s main focus is to regain the confidence of airlines around the world.

After a disturbing chain of events when 2 of their Boeing 737 MAX’s crashed in Indonesia, and later in Ethiopia, 2019 has been a very difficult year for Boeing.

While the American manufacturer is preparing the MAX to return to service with a new software update, it can barely find space to park their still-grounded aircraft.

Nevertheless, since the aviation authorities have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX, airlines have shown zero interest in the new jet.

Until the 53rd Paris Air Show.

IAG becomes the Icebreaker

On the 2nd day of the Paris Air Show, IAG and Boeing stunned the whole world.

The two parties have announced that IAG has placed a letter of intent to order 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, subject to a formal agreement.

IAG, the airline group that owns British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, LEVEL and Vueling has stated that the single-aisle aircraft will join the short-haul fleet of LEVEL, Vueling and British Airways’ operations at Gatwick Airport.

The deal has raised some questions, yet at the same time, it answered others.

Branding of the 737 MAX

The moment the two companies announced the Letter of Intent, it became clear that airlines and their parent companies will try to avoid using the MAX branding.

The official designation of the Boeing 737 MAX is 737 MAX 7, 737 MAX 8, 737 MAX 9 and so on.

However, the aviation community has named the aircraft in various ways – from calling it the Boeing 737 MAX, Boeing 737 MAX-8 or even just the Boeing 737-8.

IAG has resorted to announcing the deal on their website by using the Boeing 737-8 and 737-10 (the two different variants they’ve ordered) names. The company has completely refrained from using the MAX designation in their announcement:

“The mix of 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft would be delivered between 2023 and 2027 and would be powered by CFM Leap engines.”

Meanwhile, Boeing has added the MAX designation in the press release:

“In selecting the 737 MAX, IAG says it will fly a combination of the 737 MAX 8, which seats up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration, and the larger 737 MAX 10 jet […]”

There is a reason why the two press releases, announcing the same deal, have such a critical difference.

Will airlines further avoid using the MAX designation?

Negative and Positive Publicity

Starting from IAG’s perspective, the message is clear – the airline group wishes to avoid the negative publicity from passengers of the 5 airlines, as travelers might still be very careful and attentive when choosing the aircraft they travel on.

Airlines still cannot use the Boeing 737 MAX for commercial flights. However, eventually, as the grounding lifts, carriers will try to get the aircraft to fly A.S.A.P. But passengers might think twice before getting on a MAX, as a result of the constant downstream of shocking headlines about the Boeing 737 MAX.

For example, a month ago, Southwest Airlines announced that any passengers that are scheduled to fly with the Boeing 737 MAX will be able to switch their flights to any other aircraft type if they wish to do so. Southwest Airlines will not charge them extra for this change.