Iran Aseman Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Boeing for the purchase of up to 60 737 MAX aircraft. The deal, which was announced in Tehran on April 4, consists of a $3bn firm order for 30 jets, plus purchase rights for a further 30.
This is the second large order the US manufacturer has reached with Iranian airlines since sanctions were eased in January 2016, following an international agreement on the country’s nuclear programme. It follows an $8bn deal for 80 aircraft with Iran Air last December.
Boeing says it has negotiated the MoA under the authorisations from the US Government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord. This latest deal still requires final approval from the government. Once this is received a firm contract can be signed, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered to the carrier in 2022.
Donghai Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Boeing covering 25 737 MAXs and five 787-9 Dreamliners. It is valued at $4bn at current list prices.
The airline’s Chairman, Wong Cho Bau said he was “very pleased to be working again with the Boeing Company”. In 2013 Donghai Airlines ordered 15 737-800s and ten 737 MAX 8s.
He added: “Donghai Airlines has undergone steady development over the past ten years since the beginning of our freighter operations in 2006. Under China’s One Belt One Road initiative, we will accelerate our fleet expansion plan to satisfy the rapidly growing air travel market and help build our home base Shenzhen as the transportation hub in southern China. We’re committed to introducing new next-generation airplanes that deliver the industry-leading fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in their segment market as a key effort to fulfill the plan.”
Boeing will now work with Donghai Airlines to finalise the details of the agreement.
“We are honored by Donghai Airline’s reaffirmation of the 737 MAX, and we look forward to welcoming Donghai as our new 787 customer,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Ray Conner. “These new airplanes will provide Donghai Airlines with the added efficiency, operating economics and passenger comfort for their business growth domestically and internationally.”
By 2020 Donghai Airlines will have a fleet of 50 aircraft – 45 737s and five 787s and it is intending to grow to 100 by 2025.
Boeing is preparing to roll-out the first production 737 MAX despite having only just started its flight testing programme. The aircraft is scheduled to emerge from Boeing’s Renton final assembly facility before the end of April as is part of a plan designed to ensure trouble-free manufacturing and assembly ramp-up.
The jet, the fifth example off the new central production line established at Renton, will be stored without engines alongside several other completed airframes until test and certification of the variant is completed ahead of deliveries starting next year.
Boeing said the move is designed to provide production workers with a chance to gain valuable experience on building the new variant. It will also give the US manufacturer a buffer period in which to make any late changes, discovered during the flight testing, to this initial batch of aircraft prior to service entry.
Keith Leverkuhn, 737 MAX VP and GM, said: “The early build strategy is a delicate balance between getting a head start on production line efficiency while avoiding production of too many airframes before deliveries can begin. We are building MAX inventory in 2016, the factory is at 42 aircraft per month rate and that includes a small number of MAX that we will build and sit on until flight testing and certification is achieved.”
With flight testing going to plan and assembly of the initial airframes progressing through production smoothly, the company said it is quietly optimistic that deliveries may be possible earlier than the official July 2017 target date.