The Boeing 737 may make a return to British Airways at London Gatwick as its parent company International Airlines Group has signed a Letter of Intent with Boeing to acquire 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
It is important to emphasise that this is not a firm order for aircraft – which is no doubt subject to the aircraft receiving regulatory approval to return to service.
IAG anticipates an order of 200 aircraft for delivery between 2023 and 2027. The order will be a mix of Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft. The 737 MAX 8 seats up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration. The 737 MAX 10 jet can seat up to 230 passengers.
IAG anticipates that the aircraft would be used by British Airways at London Gatwick, LEVEL and Vueling.
It is noteworthy that IAG is prepared to introduce another type of short-haul aircraft into its fleet when it has made much of standardising the configuration of Airbus A320 aircraft to maximise efficiencies and allow aircraft to be moved between different airlines in the group.
That IAG has specifically earmarked the aircraft for BA at Gatwick and its low cost brands LEVEL and Vueling may signal its intentions for the aircraft. All three are likely to be competing against each other to acquire the aircraft and it is highly likely that the internal configuration will be standardised as much as possible.
IAG had previously advised that BA short-haul at Gatwick would be an exclusively Airbus A320 operation. The Boeing 737 originally operated for BA from 1980 until the last aircraft was retired at Gatwick in September 2015.
IAG has issued the following statement to the stock exchange:
International Airlines Group (IAG) has signed a letter of intent with Boeing for 200 B737 aircraft to join its fleet. The LOI is subject to formal agreement.
The mix of 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft would be delivered between 2023 and 2027 and would be powered by CFM Leap engines. It is anticipated that the aircraft would be used by a number of the Group’s airlines including Vueling, LEVEL plus British Airways at London Gatwick airport.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “We’re very pleased to sign this letter of intent with Boeing and are certain that these aircraft will be a great addition to IAG’s shorthaul fleet.
“We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators”.