After two tragic crashes, all Boeing 737 Max aircraft are currently grounded as software fixes are implemented and all procedures and training are analysed. With no approval of the current fixes and no set plans to get the jets back in the air on a commercial basis, it comes as quite a surprise that International Airlines Group, one of the largest groups in the world, has shown a vote of confidence to Boeing and placed an order for 200 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The order was announced at the Paris Air Show this week.

A letter of intent has been signed

IAG has signed a letter of intent for this deal, which could be worth up to $35 billion. The group owns several airlines including British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, carrying in total over 113 million passengers annually. This is actually a shift for IAG as the majority of the aircraft currently operated are Airbus’s.

Chief executive shows faith in Boeing

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG states that the group has every confidence in Boeing, and expects that the 737 Max will be successfully returned to service within the next few months. Walsh has also given his own personal vote of confidence stating that he would not hesitate to board the 737 Max. In return, the chief executive of Boeing has commented that Boeing is honored with the trust and confidence that IAG has shown the company.

Two Max models on order

So far we know that the IAG order will include both the 178 seater 737 Max 8, and the larger 737 Max 10 that can accommodate up to 230 passengers. As yet there are no details on how many of each aircraft will be delivered.

A boost for Boeing

This show of support could go a long way to improving the image of both Boeing and the reputation of its flagship aircraft, the 737 Max. Recently Boeing stated that it currently has orders for 4450 737 Max planes, but has slowed delivery since the grounding. In May, just 30 aircraft were delivered, less than half the deliveries in the same month last year. There were no new orders in either April or May this year, so the IAG order, along with recent orders for the 787 Dreamliner courtesy of Air Lease Corp. and Korean Air, provides a much needed release from a significant dearth of sales. It’s likely that IAG will negotiate a discount for such a large order, and due to the fact that the planes are not as yet airworthy, but even so, this is a major turnaround for Boeing and this has been reflected in a rise in share prices this week.

A slow journey to rebuild a battered reputation

With a recent poll showing that a quarter of Americans would try to avoid flying on a 737 Max, it’s obvious there’s a long way to go to regain the public confidence in this aircraft. There’s no doubt that every effort is being put into ensuring these planes are safe to fly and all issues have been resolved and there are talks of test flights beginning soon. Another incident with one of these aircraft would be devastating and would have huge repercussions for everyone involved. No one wants to declare the 737 Max safe to fly unless everyone is certain, and even then, it’s going to take a long time for many members of the public to feel confident boarding this notorious plane.

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