British Airways’ parent company IAG has signed a “letter of intent” to buy 200 737 Max aircraft from Boeing to be used by three of its carriers.

While IAG’s letter of intent is not a firm order, the move is a boost for Boeing with the 737 Max still grounded following two fatal crashes over the past year. Boeing is still working on a software fix to solve the problem which is believed to have caused the accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The deal with IAG includes a mixture of 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft, which would be delivered from 2023 to 2027. They would be used by British Airways at Gatwick as well as Spanish carrier Vueling and low-cost subsidiary Level.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s 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 short-haul 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.In a separate move, IAG has ordered eight Airbus A321XLRs for Iberia plus six of the same aircraft for Aer Lingus. The deal, which also includes 14 options, will see the first “narrow-body” long-haul aircraft delivered to IAG by 2023.

IAG said the order would allow Aer Lingus to launch new long-haul routes “beyond the US east coast and Canada”. While Iberia will be able to add new transatlantic destinations and “increase frequencies in key markets”.

“The A321XLR has the same unit cost as a widebody longhaul aircraft which will enable profitable network expansion,” added Walsh.

“This will strengthen both Dublin and Madrid hubs providing new transatlantic routes and additional flexibility for connecting passengers. These aircraft will also bring further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits.”

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