Ultra-low-cost US carrier Allegiant Air is set to order 50 737 MAXs despite currently operating an entirely Airbus fleet, according to reports.
Reuters said the deal, which would be worth $5 billion at list price, came after fierce competition to instead purchase the European planemaker’s A220.
The good news for Boeing comes despite Airbus looking set to have recorded more aircraft orders during 2021 than its major rival.
In total, Airbus received 664 jet orders, compared to rival Boeing’s 476. The news won’t be confirmed until later in January when the pair reveal if they’ve received any cancellations.
Nonetheless, Airbus’ significant advantage follows big orders from Qantas and Air-France KLM last month.
The Australian flag carrier said it would initially place an order for 20 A321XLR (extra long-range) and 20 A220s, with the option to purchase a further 94 over 10 years as its Boeing 737-800s and 717s are phased out.
The order was in addition to low-cost subsidiary Jetstar’s existing agreement with Airbus for over 100 aircraft in the A320neo family.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce explained why his airline decided against upgrading its 787-800s with the newer MAX.
“The Airbus deal had the added advantage of providing ongoing flexibility within the order, meaning we can continue to choose between the entire A320neo and A220 families depending on our changing needs in the years ahead,” said Joyce.
Meanwhile, Air-France KLM said in December it had made a “firm order” for 100 A320neos, with purchase rights for 60 more. The first deliveries are expected in the second half of 2023. The airline also signed a letter of intent to buy four A350F Full Freighters, with the purchase right to an additional four.
Allegiant’s deal also provides another vote of confidence in the MAX after it was grounded for almost two years following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.
In January 2021, the US Department of Justice fined Boeing US$2.5 billion. It ruled Boeing had deceived FAA safety officials who initially cleared the 737 MAX to fly and senior figures said it had concealed “material information” and engaged “in an effort to cover up their deception”.