So now it’s official: International Airlines Group (IAG) has today confirmed a firm order for 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets, with an option for another 100. Let’s take a closer look at this change in direction in IAG’s short/medium-haul fleet strategy.
IAG’s shareholders say yes to MAX
Earlier today, International Airlines Group shareholders reached an agreement with US manufacturer Boeing to order 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets.
IAG’s order is divided into 25 Boeing 737-8-200s and 25 Boeing 737-10s. In addition, IAG has reserved the option to order an additional 100 jets of the 737 MAX family. Back in May, the IAG group announced its intention to buy 50 MAX jets with an option for another 100. However, the decision was conditional on approval from the group’s shareholders, which has been confirmed today.
According to IAG, the 50 MAX jets are to be delivered from 2023 to 2027. Interestingly, as IAG is an airline group, it has not yet been revealed which group of airlines the MAX jets are destined for. The Boeing 737-8-200 and 737-10 can actually go to any of the member airlines: the British flag carrier British Airways, the Spanish national airline Iberia, the Irish national airline Aer Lingus and the Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling.
When the IAG Group first announced the Boeing order, Luis Gallego, CEO of the IAG Group, said:
“The addition of the new Boeing 737 is an important part of IAG’s short-haul fleet renewal. These latest generation aircraft are more fuel efficient than the ones they will replace and in line with our commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
What do the Boeing 737-8 and 737-10 have to offer?
IAG’s investment in the Boeing 737-8-200 and 737-10 is part of the group’s short/medium-haul overhaul of the airlines. So what are the specifications of these aircraft?
In 2014, Boeing launched the Boeing 737-8-200 with a commitment from Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair for 100 aircraft. The variant is derived from the 737-8, with the “-200” reflecting the aircraft’s seating capacity. The improved capacity translates into an improved revenue opportunity for the airlines that operate it, which is combined with a 5% reduction in operating costs compared to the 737-8.
The largest variant of the MAX family, the -10, seats up to 230 passengers in a single-class configuration. The latest variant has a range of 3,300 nautical miles (6,111 km), covering 99% of all single-use routes, including those once served by the Boeing 757. In addition, the exceptionally long range opens up new opportunities for its operators to expand their network without investing in larger aircraft. Boeing defines the 737-10 as its “rising star”, as it is marketed as the most profitable aircraft on the market right away, offering the lowest cost per seat ever.
All 737 MAX family jets feature the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, which together with advanced technology wings ensure significant reductions in noise, CO2 and NOx emissions. The table below summarizes the specifications for the Boeing 737-8-200 and 737-10.
|Specifically||Boeing 737-8-200||Boeing 737-10|
|Seats (second class)||162-178||188 – 204|
|Maximum number of seats||210||230|
|Range – nautical miles (km)||3,550 NM (6,570 km)||3,300 NM (6,110 km) – one auxiliary tank|
|Length – feet (m)||129 ft 8 in (39.52 m)||143 ft 8 in (43.8 m)|
|Wingspan – feet (m)||117 ft 10 in (35.9 m)||117 ft 10 in (35.9 m)|
|Engine||Leap-1B from CFM International||Leap-1B from CFM International|
Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, commented on the IAG shareholders’ decision by saying:
“We welcome today’s decision by IAG shareholders to approve a firm order for 50 737-8-200s and 737-10s, with options for 100 more, and we look forward to working with IAG to reintroduce the 737 into the group’s fleets.”
The only concern for IAG now may be the potential delay that Boeing will face in the delivery of the Boeing 737-10 if the manufacturer will not meet a deadline of the end of December for the certification of the variant included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
A cheap shot for Airbus
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this news is the significant change that IAG’s order will bring to member airlines’ short- and medium-haul fleets.
Currently, the IAG member airlines’ single-use market is served exclusively by Airbus 320 family aircraft. According to ch-aviation, British Airways flies 144 Airbus 320 family jets, Iberia and Iberia Express 92, Aer Lingus 40 and Vueling 125. Consequently, 2023 will mark a significant year in the history of the IAG group, whose airlines are about to change their short/medium haul fleet strategy thoroughly.
Photo: Getty Images
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