So now it’s official: the International Airlines Group (IAG) has today confirmed a firm order for 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets, with an option for another 100. Let’s look closely at this change of direction in IAG’s short/medium-haul fleet strategy.
Earlier today, the International Airlines Group’s shareholders reached an agreement with the 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. Additionally, IAG has reserved the option to order another 100 jets of the 737 MAX family. Back in May, the IAG group announced the intention to purchase the 50 MAX jets with the option for another 100. However, the decision was subject to the approval of the group’s shareholders, which has today been confirmed.
According to IAG, the 50 MAX jets should be delivered from 2023 until 2027. Interestingly, being IAG an airline group, it has not yet been disclosed to which airline of the group the MAX jets are destined. Indeed, the Boeing 737-8-200 and 737-10 could go to either of the member airlines: the UK flag carrier British Airways, the Spanish national airline Iberia, the Irish national carrier 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, stated:
“The addition of new Boeing 737s is an important part of IAG´s shorthaul fleet renewal. These latest generation aircraft are more fuel efficient than those they will replace and in line with our commitment to achieving 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 fleet renovation of the member airlines. So what are the specifics of these aircraft?
In 2014, Boeing launched the Boeing 737-8-200 with a commitment from the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair for 100 aircraft. The variant stems from the 737-8, with “-200” reflecting the aircraft’s seating capacity. The improved capacity translates into an enhanced revenue opportunity for the airlines operating it, which couples 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), which covers 99% of all single-aisle routes, including those once operated by the Boeing 757. Additionally, the exceptionally long range opens up new possibilities 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 in the single-aisle market, offering the lowest per-seat costs ever.
All 737 MAX family jets feature the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, which, together with advanced technology winglets, ensure significant reductions in noise, CO2, and NOx emissions. The table below summarizes the Boeing 737-8-200 and 737-10 specifics.
|Specifics||Boeing 737-8-200||Boeing 737-10|
|Seats (two-class)||162-178||188 – 204|
|Range – nautical miles (km)||3,550 NM (6,570 km)||3,300 NM (6,110km) – 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 IAG’s shareholders’ decision by stating:
“We welcome today’s decision by IAG’s 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 on reintroducing the 737 in to the Group’s fleets”
The only concern for IAG now might be the potential delay Boeing will face in delivering the Boeing 737-10 if the manufacturer will not meet a late December deadline for the certification of the variant form part of 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 about in the member airlines’ short/medium-haul fleets.
Currently, the single-aisle market of the IAG member airlines 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.
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