Coverage by Chris Sloan

PARIS – In a whirlwind revelation at the Paris Air Show, the International Airlines Group (IAG) has placed a Letter of Intent for 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The deal is varied between 737 MAX 8 and MAX 10 planes, at a list price of $24 billion.

It is unclear which airlines within the IAG portfolio will get the 737 MAX planes, especially since earlier today Iberia and Aer Lingus signed a commitment for the Airbus A321XLR.

“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,” said Willie Walsh, the IAG Chief Executive who placed hope into the 737 MAX program, which is struggling through the worst time in Boeing’s history.

“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”, he added.

Walsh also confirmed that entry into service for these aircraft will be 2023, although he said to the press he is hoping for an earlier entry.

Commenting on the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the system that caused the two aircraft to crash, Walsh, who is a Boeing 737 rated pilot, offered confidence even into this system.

“I have been in a flight simulator and seen MCAS in operation. It gave me confidence in the aircraft. Its important regulators have time to consider changes. I am confident in Boeing and what they have proposed with the Boeing 737 MAX”.

The MAX 8s will fly up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration, with the MAX10 offering up to 230 passengers.

Also commenting on the deal was Kevin McAllister, the Boeing Commercial CEO & President, who no doubt will be sighing a lot of relief over this deal.

RENTON, WA – JANUARY 29: A Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner lifts off for its first flight on January 29, 2016 in Renton, Washington. The 737 MAX is the newest of Boeing’s most popular airliner featuring more fuel efficient engines and redesigned wings. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

“We are truly honored and humbled by the leadership at International Airlines Group for placing their trust and confidence in the 737 MAX and, ultimately, in the people of Boeing and our deep commitment to quality and safety above all else,” he said.

“We are delighted that the IAG team recognized the superior qualities of the 737 MAX and has indicated an intention to return to the Boeing 737 family. We look forward to building on our long-standing partnership with IAG for many years to come”, he added.

This deal comes after the group placed an order for the 777X earlier this year, meaning that the group is taking a considerable shift towards Boeing.

Furthermore, in the narrowbody segment, IAG is predominantly an A320 Family operator, so this new order for 200 Boeing 737 MAX planes comes as a big surprise.

For Boeing, this is good news as this is the first direct order of the aircraft type since the accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Such a gigantic order for Boeing’s troubled aircraft program might inject much-needed confidence, wooing other carriers to step forward and continue supporting Boeing’s best-selling airliner as it nears its re-certification process.

IAG has wowed analysts and the local media at Le Bourget with this Boeing 737 MAX order. Stay tuned for more.