MIAMI — Air Canada announced that they will order up to 109 Boeing 737MAX airplanes on Wednesday. The order is a big win for Boeing, who managed to convince the Canadian carrier to defect from Airbus in choosing its new narrow-body fleet.
The fleet renewal order is composed of 61 firm orders split between 33 737 MAX 8 and 28 737 MAX 9 airplanes. The announcement includes options for 18 additional aircraft, rights to purchase up to an additional 30, and the ability to turn any of the firm orders into MAX 7 aircraft. The firm order is worth $6.5 billion at list prices.
Deliveries are set to begin in 2017, and are planned to continue into 2021.
The deal also includes a provision in which Boeing can purchase up to twenty of the carrier’s current fleet on forty-five Embraer 190 aircraft. For each E190 that Boeing buys it will be replaced by a larger narrow-body aircraft until a 737 MAX replaces it down the road. A plan for the replacement of the remaining 25 E190 aircraft is in the works, which could go to Embraer, Boeing, or even Bombardier’s CSeries.
The order is one of only a small handful of instances in which the 737MAX was chosen to replace an existing Airbus fleet. It had been rumored that Air Canada was favoring the NEO program. Had they gone with Airbus they would have been in good company. Thus far Airbus narrow body NEO sales have been outpacing Boeing 737MAX orders by a wide margin. Both have been competing to be the dominant 150+ seat, narrow-body aircraft through the next few decades.
“We’re honored that Air Canada chose Boeing to lead its fleet renewal plan,” said Brad McMullen, vice president of North America Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes in a press release. The statement ought to ring especially true as Airbus has comprised the bulk of Air Canada’s narrow-body fleet for years. The last Boeing 737 to fly for the airline retired in 2004.
Previously Boeing had the run of Air Canada, not that there was an Airbus around to compete with. The carrier operated 727-200s starting in 1974, adding 737-200s two years later (though they did both join the DC9, which the airline operated from the late 1960s). As the 727s and 737s retired they were replaced by competing Airbus A319 and later A320 narrow-body aircraft. Air Canada’s A320s are among the oldest flying today, dating back to 1989.
Air Canada maintains a mix of both Airbus and Boeing for its long-haul fleet. The carrier also recently announced plans for their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, due in the spring of 2014.