British Airways’ parent company orders dozens of planes originally designed for Ryanair

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IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has ordered dozens of an aircraft type designed for Ryanair. The group, which also includes Aer Lingus of Ireland and Iberia and Vueling of Spain, has ordered 25 new Boeing aircraft known as 737-8200s, to be delivered between 2023 and 2027.

The type is a high-capacity version of the Boeing 737 Max, with an extra emergency exit fitted.

In Ryanair’s configuration it has an extra eight seats within the same basic fuselage, taking the capacity to 197 passengers. IAG has also ordered 25 of Boeing’s largest Max aircraft, the 737-10. The planes “can be used by any airline in the group for fleet replacement”, the company said. At present the individual carriers use Airbus A320 series aircraft.

The airline schedule analyst Sean Moulton said he thought the aircraft would be destined for low-cost divisions: “It is unclear which brand they will be used for, but I suspect it will be the new British Airways EuroFlyer subsidiary at Gatwick and Vueling.”

In addition, IAG has options on 100 more aircraft, without the type being specified, with possible delivery between 2025 and 2028. Luis Gallego, the group’s chief executive, said: “The addition of new Boeing 737s is an important part of IAG ́s short-haul fleet renewal.

“These latest generation aircraft are more fuel efficient than those they will replace and in line with our commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.” The initial order is worth $3.125bn (£2.53bn) at list prices but IAG says it has “negotiated a substantial discount”.

The group added: “IAG has a range of financing options and will choose the most appropriate source closer to the delivery.” The Boeing 737 Max entered commercial service in 2017 as the latest version of the world’s most successful jet aircraft. But the plane was involved in fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019, which cost the lives of 346 passengers and crew. The type was grounded worldwide for nearly two years.

Boeing was found to have installed software that could be triggered by a single faulty instrument and force the nose of the aircraft down. A comprehensive programme of modifcations was implemented before the 737 Max was allowed to carry passengers again.

In 2019, shortly after the plane was grounded, IAG signed a Letter of Intent with Boeing for up to 200 aircraft.

Ryanair took delivery of its first 737-8200 in June 2021. At the time the chief executive of Europe’s biggest budget airline, Michael O’Leary, said:  “Our customers will enjoy more leg room, new Boeing ‘Sky Interiors’ and lower fares, while reducing their environmental footprint by switching to these new aircraft.”

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