LE BOURGET, France • Boeing won a landmark 737 MAX order from British Airways parent IAG on Tuesday, ending a sales drought in the wake of the grounding of the aircraft following two fatal crashes.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, as IAG is formally known, said it had signed a letter of intent for up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX planes. It would buy the 737 MAX 8, the model that crashed in October and March, as well as the larger 737 MAX 10.
“Looking into the future, we recognize this is a great aircraft,” said IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh. Walsh, a 737 pilot early in his career, recently flew a MAX simulator to assess Boeing’s proposed flight control aimed at addressing issues identified in the crashes.
Walsh said he tested the original flight control system and the upgrade. “It was a very helpful exercise. It gave me confidence both in the aircraft and the changes” proposed by Boeing, he said.
The plane will be operated by British Airways and IAG budget units Level and Vueling, he said.
Boeing also secured a commitment from Korean Air Lines and Air Lease to buy 787 Dreamliners.
Boeing entered the Paris Air Show in an unusual situation. The U.S. plane maker had racked up 125 more cancellations than new orders for this year, reflecting few bookings and a raft of canceled orders, including from India’s financially struggling Jet Airways.
The plane maker failed to win new orders in April or May. Air New Zealand said last month that it would buy eight 787-10 Dreamliners, but the deal wasn’t finalized.
The biennial Paris Air Show is typically a place for plane producers to showcase new products and rack up large airliner orders. But this year, Boeing has had to balance that with handling the fallout of the two 737 MAX crashes, which killed a total of 346 people.
Boeing said Tuesday that Korean Air would deploy 20 of the largest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-10, and 10 slightly smaller 787-9s. The deal has a value of $6.3 billion before industry-standard discounts. Some of the planes are being acquired by plane-rental firm Air Lease and placed with the Asian carrier.
Air Lease separately ordered five 787-9s at a pre-discount price of $1.5 billion.
Rival Airbus SE continued its order haul, including for its newly launched A321XLR, introduced at the air show Monday.
IAG, which has long signaled interest in the plane to fly trans-Atlantic routes, said Tuesday it was ordering 14 A321XLRs, six for Irish unit Aer Lingus and eight for Spain’s Iberia. Both carriers would open new trans-Atlantic routes, IAG said.
Philippine budget carrier Cebu Pacific ordered 10 of the new Airbus planes, with first delivery in 2024, along with 16 of the wide-body A330-900s and five A320neo single-aisle jets.
Saudi Arabian Airlines added to an earlier A320neo deal, taking as many as 100 of the planes, including 15 of the A321XLR.